You Might Be an Islamophobe If…

Screencap of video of the town hall mob, showing an angry man from the back jabbing his finger in the air at the poor guy assumed to be Muslim, merely an engineer presenting plans to the town hall for a new building, the transcript running below reports the man's words as Every Muslim is a terrorist, period. Shut your mouth.Here are some things I learned when I posted on Facebook an article about the rising abuse of innocent Muslims in America for no valid reason but an irrational fear of Islam. Trigger warning: a fuckton of awful racist shit follows (or equivalent).

First, The Set-Up

I posted that this is what happens when you fan the flames, and linked to the article “It’s Not Just Trump: Islamophobia in America Is Spiraling out of Control.” It documents at excruciating (and yet still not even comprehensive) length the rising tide of violence, intimidation, and bigotry against innocent and peaceful Muslims in the United States, including murders, shootings, assaults, mobs, acts of vandalism, racism (like open discussion of killing “ragheads”), planned acts of mass murder (luckily thwarted by the FBI), even the actual dismemberment and murder of a child in the street, all amounting to well over a thousand hate crimes targeting Muslims in the last decade. All in the U.S.

This includes one mass mob incident (the terrifying video of which leads the article—BTW, that is what a witch hunt looks like), and one armed militia action that involved shows of armed force and acts of intimidation (such as spying out and publishing the names and addresses of all Muslims and “Muslim sympathizers” in the area). And those were just examples (there are other documented instances of anti-Muslim mobs, armed and not; likewise vandalism and assaults). Vox writers themselves have received a barrage of racist and Islamophobic harassment (“including threats of sexual violence against women writers” and “expressed hatred of Muslims”), just for documenting this racism and Islamophobia.

The article also shows many not-likely-to-be-coincidental links between all this and public Islamophobic rhetoric by pundits, media, and politicians. It notes the following shocking examples, each of which differs in no relevant respect from Nazi propaganda posters and broadcasts against the threat of “the Jews” in the 1930s:

  • A third of Republicans want Islam outlawed and all Muslims banned from public offices.
  • A major conservative group easily raised tens of millions of dollars in donations for its campaign to “inform” the public via mass media that “nearly every” Muslim American group, “including campus student groups,” are “extremist sleeper cells bent on launching ‘stealth jihad’ and subverting the Constitution.”
  • That same organization (as well as popular pundits and politicians) are spreading inflammatory myths about “no-go zones” in Western nations (even in the U.S.) that “police refuse to enter and where Sharia law prevails.” (Yes, that’s bullshit.)
  • Major political candidates repeatedly dehumanize Muslim refugees as “rabid dogs” (arguably worse than the “rats” that Nazi propaganda reduced the Jews to) and raise alarmist rhetoric about them “invading” our nation.
  • Others (even the supposedly sane Marco Rubio) have suggested we start closing Muslim businesses and places of worship, based on criteria even Jo McCarthy would have resigned before suggesting: any facility (commercial or religious) that can be connected in any way with any one who was inspired to be “a radical” (whatever that means; the state will surely in its wisdom decide).
  • Yet others have said things about the Muslim religion (and indeed as a whole) like, “You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.” On nationwide television. Unchallenged by anyone else on that network. Or even, “calling for the United States to arm death squads throughout the Muslim world to kill all Islamists and members of Islamist organizations,” even though “many of those organizations are avowedly peaceful and have millions of members, including women and children.”
  • Also spreading panic over fictional ‘Muslim training camps’ hidden in the U.S., including such ridiculous and inflammatory rhetoric as claiming that “peaceful Muslim American families were in fact hiding vast training facilities that, if left undisturbed, would be used to launch terror attacks across the US.”
  • And employing similar rhetoric implying that “Muslims are somehow less human and more violent” than other human beings. Even major news media continually assert this. Pundits have said “vast numbers of Muslims want humans to die for holding a different idea” (even though that’s not true of Muslims in any democratic nation, like the U.S., the U.K. or E.U., or any Western nation in fact, as well as Turkey, and even barely democratic nations like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Azerbaijan) and share “too much in common with ISIS” (even though in fact the “vast majority” of Muslims not only oppose ISIS, but Muslim nations are unanimously united in actively fighting ISIS).

Other evidence of Nazi-era style anti-Jewish…I mean, anti-Muslim propaganda include:

Hosts [on national news programs] have repeated bigoted falsehoods, for example that female genital mutilation is an inherently Muslim problem (in fact, it is a regional practice that crosses religious lines [e.g. “In Niger, for example, 55 percent of Christian women and girls have experienced FGM, compared with two percent of their Muslim counterparts”]) or that restrictions on women driving are “commonplace” in the Muslim world (in fact, it is restricted to one country, Saudi Arabia, that represents 2 percent of the global Muslim population).

Okay. So, that. All that. That’s a lot of hard core dehumanizing and often violent and scary bigotry. All directly at innocent, peaceful Muslims. If you are not appalled by this, there is something wrong with you.

Second, The Equivalence

Yes, Saudi Arabia is just a successful ISIS. Just as Kim Jon Un is a successful Bond villain. But Turkey has nearly three times as many Muslims as Saudia Arabia has, and the vast majority of them do not at all share the criminal views of the Saudi regime. Much less the Saudi people, which one should not confuse with the elite in a tyrannical state: most Iranians are de facto secular, for example, and simply required by law to pretend to be Muslim, not even being allowed to elect their own candidates. But set that aside. Even still, the contrast between Saudi Arabia and Turkey proves that no false generalization from one evil regime (e.g. North Korea) can warrant attributing its villainy to everyone sharing a culture in common with it (e.g. South Korea). That is irrational. Even if one wanted to harrumph at Islamic conservatives in Turkey (an actual minority there, as our Christian conservatives are here), you should note that their political wish-list does not substantially differ from far-right Christian conservatives already sitting in the U.S. legislature or rigging our elections with vast sums of slush money. And if you are a pot calling that kettle black, you might want to figure out where your shame went.

Similarly, much is made of Islamic opposition to homosexuality rendering it especially evil, as if that hasn’t always been a Christian thing as well. In fact, it is not notably different. The Koran does not even command the killing of gays; the Christian Bible does. And like a slight majority of Muslim, and still many Christian, nations now do, Christian authorities in America were jailing gays as recently as 1986; even life sentences remained on the books until 2003. In fact, it was American Christian lobbyists who tried to get the death penalty for gays instituted in several African nations in just the last few years (because they couldn’t succeed at this in any decent nation on earth). Meanwhile, nearly half of Muslim countries don’t even outlaw it. Think about that.

Even this year, major American presidential candidates (Jindal, Huckabee, and Cruz) spoke at a rally calling for the death-penalty for gays. Several highly popular imams…I mean, preachers…who still command large followings on that topic, stood on the same stage at the same event to speak (Kevin Swanson, Phil Kayser, and Joel McDurmon). Imagine if indeed these candidates had attended a Muslim-run rally that said all the same things. What do you think the reaction would be?

What about the most famous imams…I mean preachers…in America being repeatedly asked by mainstream media outlets to represent Christianity, endorsing the death penalty for gays? Oh, yeah. That happened. And remember when Larry Pratt was a major player in the GOP machine only until he was caught hobnobbing with white supremacists? Funny that. His continued public support for the state-sanctioned murder of gays never bothered his peers. And don’t forget pastor Steven Anderson, still with a congregation of a hundred or so in Arizona (far better than Phelps ever did). And many others like him.

This decade, in the very United States, hundreds of thousands of Christian voters still support kill-the-gays candidates. Last year, kill-the-gays Scott Esk won 5% of his district in a primary. In 2012, Charlie Fuqua won 30% in a general election (even though p. 168 of his book God’s Law makes clear what he wants for gays: executing them is the “kind and loving thing to do”). Very small districts, but these percentages were no fluke. Larry Kilgore “ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and came second in the Republican primary behind Senator John Cornyn with 225,897 votes,” which is about 19% of voting Texan Republicans. And Merrill Keiser, also openly calling for the death penalty for gays (even saying Elton John and Mary Cheney should be killed), received 163,000 votes in Ohio as recently as 2006.

Yeah. Fuck those guys.

But don’t for a minute tell me shit about ISIS as if the Christian right doesn’t in fact envy everything ISIS can do, and wouldn’t be doing it the moment we let them. Because everything ISIS is doing, they want to do. Oh, maybe not to every jot and tittle. They might let women show some skin. And they won’t bother sawing heads off, because that’s just gross. They’ll just shoot us. Or stone us (yes, several of the above American Christian leaders insist the actual practice of stoning should be reinstituted…even against disobedient children). But otherwise, Dominonists, Reconstructionists, Restorationists, Armageddonists, David Barton, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, John Hagee and his tens of thousands of worshipers and millions of fans, 57% of Republican voters…yes, let me say that again in case you missed it, 57% of Republican voters…they want sharia law instituted in this country.

And unlike ISIS, which has no rat’s chance in hell of ever instituting sharia law in this country, they actually do. So why are you worried about a bunch of barbarians thousands of miles away who can’t even touch us, and not worried about these guys, who actually sit in our legislatures and are commanding the votes of millions of Americans?

Never mind that these folks have figured out how to inspire (and then endorse) terrorism in our own country to extra-legally advance their sharia law. (Valerie Tarico, Here’s How Far-Right Christians Incited Stochastic Terrorism at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.) Never mind that in America now, you are over seven times more likely to be killed by a right wing (and usually Christian) terrorist than a Muslim one (and less than 10% of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe are Islamic). And never mind that ISIS is not actually recruiting fighters on a platform of sharia law, but simply absorbing dispossessed men on a revenge kick, most of whom actually don’t give a shit about sharia law. They just have nothing else to live for; or we fucked them over too many times; or both. [Further analysis on that point besides what I already just cited, is available here and here and here.]

Even apart from all that. (Really? Apart from all that?) Just consider that Islamic terrorism is not qualitatively different from Christian terrorism. Which ISIS differs from only in its concentration of absolute power—which is not a function of it being Islamic, but of our creating a power vacuum in the region with a stupid war we should never have fought.

Just survey the facts:

And of course, don’t forget that the Catholic Church practically was ISIS for over a thousand years. And that the greatest religiously-motivated genocide in human history, starting a whole worldwide war to exterminate the Jews, gays, and other “undesirables,” was the work of a Christian political party—popularly known as the Nazis. (Who, unlike ISIS, were even democratically elected into power.) And yet even in recent memory Christian atrocities include the Serb Orthodox Genocide, the Christian Lebanese Massacres, and the Irish Troubles (which I shall assume requires no link).

Finally, with respect to the “Syrian refugees” everyone is afraid of, ween yourself off your woobie. Not a single one of the terrorists who hit Paris was Syrian. Nor a single one of the terrorists who hit San Bernardino. And, as I just noted, few of the members of ISIS are Syrian. The majority of ISIS fighting ranks are dispossessed adventurists from other countries (like Egypt and Iraq, occasionally even the U.S. and U.K., which means more jihadists are going over there than coming over here—good riddance, frankly). ISIS has even by the wildest estimates no more than 200,000 fighters. There are 6.5 million Syrian refugees. Even if all of ISIS were Syrian (and remember, not even most are), that means of Muslims in the area, hardly any of them support ISIS; almost all of them want to get the fuck away from ISIS. In fact, the ratio is 32 to 1. That means for every “crazy ISIS fanatic” there are thirty two Muslims who want nothing to do with crazy ISIS shit and are trying to get the fuck away from it.

I want you to ask yourself, why, that being the case, you are more afraid of those 32 times more Muslims who are fleeing ISIS (gods forbid that happened to be you) than the tiny fraction of lunatics assembled from all over the globe that doesn’t own a boat much less have any chance at all of ever crossing the sea to get you. Also ask yourself why you are okay with allowing ten thousand plus murders a year in this country as merely “the cost” of hypothetically keeping a gun, but the vastly fewer deaths that could possibly result from a handful of ISIS moles slipping in with the refugees, you consider an unacceptable price to save the lives of millions people. What if these six million were the six million Jews liberated from concentration camps, and the fear was German saboteurs slipping in among them? Or maybe a more close to home question: What if these six million were the Japanese Americans we actually did decide (to our eternal shame) to put in our own concentration camps, merely to maybe hypothetically block the handful of Imperial saboteurs that might maybe hypothetically have been among them?

If you can’t run these equations in any sensible way, there is something wrong with you.

Third, The Lessons

So, I post the Vox article. The comments are appalling. Eventually I am forced to declare:

It’s interesting to see how quickly just posting extensive evidence of Islamophobia, provokes numerous people to deny Islamophobia exists by expressing their own Islamophobia, thus actually adding to the evidence in the article.

Indeed. And what we got, is a menagerie of tropes and examples of Islamophobia, and how Islamophobes justify their Islamophobia or their denial of it.

Classist Bigotry as Deflection:

  • First comment, “Look at the color of his neck. Any questions?” (In response to the picture included even here above.)
  • I reply right away, “Digs at ‘red necks’ aren’t helpful, when plenty of the people the article documents are college educated Yanks. This is not a ‘red neck’ problem. It’s an American problem.”
  • Caught being a bigot, this commenter then the tried to claim he wasn’t judging a man’s character by the color or appearance of the man’s neck in the picture. We weren’t fooled.
  • Another commenter caught him out right away: “If you insist that the broader definition of ‘generic bigot’ is the correct definition, then you can’t use the existence of a sunburnt neck to identify a ‘redneck’…which is classism and bigotry itself.”
  • He throws random vile invective at her. Because he is a rational person who understands how to construct an argument.
  • I have more patience than she does (for no adequately explained reason) and respond by remarking (among other things):

    I used to dig ditches in the sun. I used to look like a red neck. I know plenty of liberals who look exactly like the guy in the image. You can’t identify a bigot by their neck or face or body type. You know what you can identify a bigot by? What they say. And you are saying a lot of shit that makes you sound like one.

  • He throws random vile invective at me. Because he is a rational person who understands how to construct an argument.
  • His departing shot is some mumbling about PC nutters.

The lesson here is that you might be an Islamophobe, if your way of convincing yourself you are not, is to convince yourself only some other group you have bigoted views of would do that. Sure, only “rednecks” are Islamophobes. Except for all the Islamophobes who aren’t. (As documented in the article this loser didn’t read.) But as long as you can convince yourself you, at least, are not a “redneck,” then you can’t possibly need to examine yourself. Because that racism stuff, only those people ever do that. And I’m not one of them. Hmm.

It’s also dangerous to do this. Because if you convince yourself only “uneducated hicks” are the bigots, then you won’t be motivated to do or say anything about the actual leaders in this country (no hicks they) who are spreading, fanning, and endorsing this bigoted shit. Of course, with that tactic, you also won’t have much chance of gaining humanist inroads among the “uneducated hicks” you just insulted and dismissed—or rather, the regular people of this country, who actually aren’t all stupid conservative racist whatevers but actually increasingly informed and progressive.

Islamophobia Can’t Exist Because It Doesn’t Exist Fuck Your Evidence:

  • Second comment, right out of the gate, trolls the very existence of the phenomenon with semantics. “Rational” dudebros love semantics. Because empiricism fucks them over, so semantics is the only sandbox they have left to play in. “How do you define Islamophobia?” Ba-da-dump.
  • I answer: “Irrational fear of the practitioners, practice, and presence of Islam (Muslims, Mosques, Korans). All documented in the article.” As, in fact, it was. Extensively. I later point out, that these three things entail, “That’s a fear of Islam, not just Muslims,” so this isn’t just “Muslimophobia.” It’s the religion causing their terror, as if it were a disease infecting “the Muslims.”
  • That started a 78 comment long thread in which several dudebros tried to convince me that…
  • (1) There is no such thing as an irrational fear, therefore all fears are justified, therefore Islamophobia cannot exist.
  • (2) Criticism of a thing is a form of fearing that thing, therefore Islamophobia includes criticism of Islam, we all agree criticism of Islam is good, therefore Islamophobia cannot exist.
  • In category (1): “Just as there is legitimate rational fear of sexual assault within the US prison system, there is legitimate rational fear of the use of a religion as a weapon for promoting violence.”
  • I reply:

    Sigh. Fear and critique are not the same thing. Being wrong and being dangerous are not the same thing. Nor are irrational fears (“every Muslim is a terrorist/Korans and Mosques promote terrorism/Jews want to control the world/Synagogues support violent Zionism/every socialist is a Russian spy/every uppity old lady is a witch/every atheist is a baby killer/every black man is a criminal”) the same as rational fears (“I’m in a well-documented violent neighborhood/I’m in Saudi Arabia/certain kinds of rhetoric from the Right and/or Christian Dominionists and/or Muslim equivalents to Dominionists and/or White Supremacists etc. are a threat to my rights or life”).

  • Oh, and, “Muslims are not prison rapists.” In fact:

    To think that because Islam is false and leads to behaviors in many contrary to human rights, that therefore Muslims are like prison rapists, is Islamophobia. It is as absurd as saying that because Christianity is false and leads to behaviors in many contrary to human rights, that therefore Christians are like prison rapists.

  • I cite the evidence that we are more likely to be killed in this country by Christian terrorists than Muslim ones (seven times more likely even). Because that exposes the irrationality of their defending a fear of Muslims, when they obviously don’t fear Christians. And an irrational fear of Muslims is Islamophobia.
  • And to carry the point home, I continued:

    There are over two million Muslims in the US. Count up how many have engaged acts of terror in the US. Seriously. Give me the count. Then explain why you are painting the remaining over-two-million Muslims with the brush of that fraction of a percent, a fraction vastly smaller than the number of Christian sociopaths in this country (sociopathy being 1 in 100 of any general population). And explain why sociopaths don’t scare you but Muslims do. And explain why even when sociopaths scare you, you don’t assume and treat everyone you meet as if a sociopath.

  • Now they engage a derailing argument about “safe spaces” on university campuses. At which they exhibit no logic or understanding, but do reveal they are conservative wingnuts, deeply concerned about “safe spaces” on university campuses. I won’t bore you with the progress of that argument.
  • Someone else cleverly mocks their last relevant argument with: “To clarify: DAESH is to Muslims as prison rapists are to people having consensual gay sex.”
  • They don’t get the joke. Even though that joke nailed my point exactly. The point these wingnuts never fathom.
  • Instead, they go back to category (1): “Would this be islamophobia? ‘We can draw a straight line from the actions of ISIS to some text or ideas in the Koran’.”
  • I answer: “It depends on what you mean. The same thing as we can draw a straight line from the murder of gays to the Christian Bible?”
  • Caught, they have no logical way out, so instead they seriously try for a long time after that to deny that there is any Biblical inspiration of actual or called-for murders of gays in this country. Class A bullshit. But I have more patience than I ought.
  • Doomed, they try to turn this category (1) argument into a category (2) argument:

    Let’s say someone claimed the Bible inspired them to murder gays and they provided chapter and verse of God instructing them to do just that. And our response was that [that] is an immoral thing to do. Would we have an irrational fear of that action and/or idea?

  • So, they try to convert criticizing an individual, into an irrational fear of an entire religion, so as to prove no fears are irrational, and all Islamophobia is just criticism.
  • I point out, “No. That’s normal. That’s not what people are doing with Islam. As the article demonstrates. See the difference?” As in, the difference between what they just said (rationally criticizing a specific murderer’s immoral use of the Bible), and the actual Islamophobia documented in the article (not one example of which was any such thing).
  • I continue: “You don’t fear Christians will kill you because the Bible tells them to (and it does, and has been cited as such). You know most Christians are not the murderers the Bible tells them to be.
  • To which they answer, “Interesting. So ISIS isn’t using the Koran to justify their actions we may find abhorrent? Am I understanding correctly?
  • Seriously.
  • I try again: “Even as Christians in this country publicly cite the Bible as supporting the execution of gays.” In other words, yes, of course ISIS cites the Koran, just as Christians cite the Bible. Identical. So why are they treating Muslims differently than Christians? (Though in fact, ISIS cites the Hadith for this, since the Koran doesn’t say anything about killing gays, but I wasn’t going to try explaining to these wingnuts the difference, or that in fact the Hadith on this is based on the same passages in the Bible the Christians cite on this.)
  • One of them gets halfway to getting it with the admission, “It seems many Christians do not adhere to much of the Bible.” (As if they only just realized this.)
  • I immediately add, “Nor do Muslims. Two million plus in the US. How many are killing us because ‘Koran’?” Crickets.
  • I add again, “There is no appreciable difference between Christians and Muslims in terms of ‘killing based on scripture when allowed’. Except, Christians are killing more of us than Muslims are.” I cite the evidence of that again.
  • But, alas, they still miss the point, and start over with the same tack, “Why does ISIS [throw] gays off of rooftops? What informed that action?” Yadayada. Already covered that, Dude.
  • For several comments they seriously try denying again that any killing or calls to kill gays in this country have any basis in the Bible.
  • I’m almost done with these turds:

    Oh for fucks sake. Are you trolling me? Because I can’t believe you really doubt the kill-the-gays candidates are running on any platform but Leviticus-says-so. You know damn well gays are killed in this country by people citing the bible.

  • I reiterate that it’s the same thing. “So you shouldn’t treat Muslims differently than Christians. QED.
  • Having lost the argument, they go full circle back to category (2), as if none of our conversation happened: “I’m just concerned that the term Islamophobia conflates ideas with people and ideas will be taken off the table.”
  • I conclude with:

    Read the article. It does not conflate those things, and thinking words do that is a Slippery Slope Fallacy. Don’t you dare deny the existence of the Islamophobia documented in the article, or make light if it, with the excuse that some hypothetical hobgoblin somewhere might jump out from under your bed and conflate it with reasoned critique.

The lesson here is that Islamophobes would rather defend their own privilege (their right to criticize a religion they don’t like) than admit innocent people are being subjected to horrible bigotry. Since there can’t be any difference between criticizing a religion and being a bigot (because they can’t tell the difference—because they are Islamophobes), then they can’t be a bigot, and no bigotry against Muslims exists, and fuck all the evidence I presented of bigotry against Muslims. Not one iota of which consisted of rationally critiquing their religion.

I find this is a common derail by Islamophobes. They need to conflate “rational critique” with all bigotry whatever, so they can be as bigoted as they want in their critiques, and deny that anything bad is being done to innocent people merely because they are Muslims (or even just mistakenly thought to be Muslims). The injustice of this, and the suffering of those people is utterly meaningless to these guys. They don’t give a fuck. They just want to be able to criticize Islam. Because it’s scary. More so than Christianity for some reason. And being more scared of Islam than Christianity? That’s Islamophobia.

Islamophobia as Islamophobia Apologetics (or They All Deserved It):

Okay. Then we get full double-barrel Islamophobic douchery. Remember everything I summarized in the first section above, as what the article I was citing documents. Keep that in mind as you read this comment. Have it all in mind again? Okay. Here goes…

Name-calling with the term Islamophobia is an aggressive tactic popularized by apologists for radical Islam to silence individuals who attempt to tell the truth about Jihadist Islam. The psychological term phobia describes an excessive and irrational fear. So-called Islamophobia, by contrast, is appropriate willingness to heed the solid evidence of who commits terror acts and their motivations.

Yep. This douchebag just justified all the horrible bigotry, violence and murder and dismemberment and all, documented in that article, with the argument that it’s all “appropriate” and in accordance with “solid evidence” of who is endangering us. That, in fact, none of the Islamophobia documented extensively in the article exists, because “Islamophobia” is a word invented by “apologists for radical Islam” to “silence” true prophets of doom like Sir Douchebag. All that documented Islamophobia? Just people “attempting to tell the truth about Jihadist Islam.” Not one iota of it demonstrates “excessive and irrational fear.” Nope. Not one.

No further argument is required. If you don’t already see what’s wrong here, your logic is fucked, and I can’t help you.

Oh, BTW? We are already and only at the third substantive comment on my post on Facebook. Within mere minutes of my posting it. Fortunately, the fourth was an expression of sympathy, so my hope for the world wasn’t dashed by the hideousness of bigoted souls.

Islamophobia Doesn’t Exist Because Those Incidents Are All Flukes

  • The fifth comment, though, is from another Islamophobe:

    That’s about 10 or so incidents…that’s “spiraling out of control”? The fact that Islamism poses a civilizational risk to all people needs to be shouted and brave Muslims who wish to moderate their faith are becoming louder and louder.

  • Holy fuck.
  • I reply:

    Seriously? An entire town hall meeting mobbed? Numerous elite political candidates. Dozens of geographically scattered incidents of open assaults, vandalism, online statements of bigotry (about killing “ragheads”). Dismembering a child in the street. Shootings. Murders. All a statistical anomaly? How much evidence do we need to gather?

  • And also:

    And no, “Islamism” poses little threat to the US. The Christian right poses a far greater threat. Google Armageddon Lobby, The Family, et al. Right wing fundamentalist Christians actually nearly control our legislature, and actually are close to having access to our nuclear arsenal.

  • At this moment, they try to deny any child was dismembered in the street. Because they can’t read.
  • I won’t bore you with that thread beyond noting that they tried really really hard to argue the killer was a Muslim even though the sources all explicitly identified him as a Christian, and record that he engaged in multiple explicit, quoted, and documented anti-Islamic statements (including scrawling that “the Quran was a disease worse than Ebola” on his van…the van he used to kill and dismember a child in the street outside a mosque). Trying to deny the facts is a common tactic of all bigots in general. Because they don’t do empiricism. They’re bigots.
  • Oh, and also, one of their arguments? He had a Muslim-sounding name, therefore he must be Muslim. Thus conveniently illustrating more Islamophobia.
  • In a second attempt to (this time spontaneously) deny facts, they claim, “Ahmed the clock maker was not arrested.” This was more Dudebro fun with semantics to avoid admitting facts.
  • I catch the first comment’s bone thrown to “moderate Muslims” whose voices are “becoming louder” and add:

    But yes, the 99% of peaceful Muslims in the US have been denouncing Muslim violence for decades. They were ignored usually, by people claiming they weren’t speaking up when they were.

  • Someone notices and calls out the original commenter’s Islamophobic dogwhistle about Islam being a “civilizational risk.” Like, say, a large asteroid impact, or Global Thermonuclear War (which requires arsenals of thousands of nukes, which no Islamic nation will ever have even a fraction of access to). Did I mention Islamophobia consists of an irrational fear of Islam? Yeah. That’s what this is. “Muslims will destroy civilization” is as irrational a thing to believe as “California will soon fall off into the sea.”
  • I build on their apt quip:

    Yes, because though Right Wingers pose a seven times greater risk of killing us than Muslims, and far more Christian Armageddonists and Dominionists actually sit and vote in our legislatures and are running for and have a realistic shot at becoming President of the world’s greatest superpower, only Muslims pose a “civilizational risk.” /sarcasm

  • I conclude by returning to the inanity of the original argument:

    [The article] documents dozens of bad incidents all across the US, including dismembering a kid in the street, rampant vandalism, murder, shootings, assaults, mobs, and violations of human rights. If you think this is normal, you should have been worried [about all this rampant abuse of innocent people] even before the article.

The lesson here is, Islamophobes don’t do facts. They need to deny all the facts. And thus justify all the documented bigotry. Because Islam is so scary it turns Muslims into flesh eating zombies that shall thereby destroy civilization. (“And why don’t you people see this, what’s wrong with you, we need these shouty angry people to be even shoutier and angrier so we finally do something about it or else we’re all going to die!!!”)

In a sad irony, while this Islamophobe said there wasn’t enough evidence presented to establish a trend (fuck all there wasn’t), another Islamophobe came along and actually said it was a “composition fallacy” to assemble all this evidence and conclude from it that a trend existed. Proving that, as I remarked to him, “You don’t do empiricism well.” They also don’t know what a composition fallacy is.

Argument from Boko Haram:

A new fallacy shall enter the lexicon heretofore, which I shall describe as, “Boko Haram exists; therefore all Muslims are dangerous radicals who will cut off your head and rape your daughters; therefore Islamophobia doesn’t exist, because our fears are totally justified.”

The Islamophobic commenters deployed this argument in many forms. One was explicit (actually citing Boko Haram). Others were more embarrassing. Like citing the Wikipedia page listing all documented terrorist attacks in the U.S. … As if that alone proved their point that all the Islamophobia documented in the article was justified, because of all this terrorism the Muslims are inflicting upon on us. At which I point out: “You do realize most of the US deaths in those incidents were not by Islamic but by Christian and right wing terrorists, right? Or did you just Islamophobically assume terrorism meant Muslim?” (Spoiler: They just Islamophobically assumed terrorism meant Muslim.)

They then tried derailing the argument as being about living in Kenya. Because all the Muslims in Kenya definitely want to kill you. Even though the article was about Muslims in America, not Kenya, and acts of Islamophobia against them, not Kenyans. And hardly any Muslims in Kenya actually want to kill you. Any more than “the Christians” want to kill you here in the U.S., though there are Christians here who want to kill you. The analogy of course is lost on them. They don’t fathom how this shows their fear is irrational: they fear Muslims far more than Christians, even when Christians pose a far greater danger, and yet that danger doesn’t even give any rational justification for fearing Christians!

That, BTW? That’s called an argument a fortiori.

Another variant of this fallacy could be called Argument from 9/11: 9/11 happened, therefore Muslims are all killers. Apart from the obvious irrational nonsense of such reasoning, I simply added:

Dude. Winging about 9/11 in justification of the acts documented in that article is like winging about Pearl Harbor in 1956, and saying even in 1956 that the Japanese Internment was a good idea and should be reinstated.

Fearing the bogeyman we wiped out years ago, when a sevenfold greater danger has plagued us for fifteen years since, is irrational. And using that fear to justify bigotry against the millions of American Muslims who have never attacked us even in decades (not even 9/11 involved a single US citizen; or a single person from Syria), is Islamophobia.

Actually, in my first remark there, I wasn’t being sarcastic. That is exactly what this guy was arguing. I am certain he would have been one of those guys gleefully rounding of “the Japs” to save civilization from their scourge, and grousing for decades that we had the audacity to ever let them out again. Because “Pearl Harbor.” That I even have to explain the idiocy of such logic appalls me.

Eventually I just ask, “If people were assaulting and murdering Christians in the US to avenge Kony’s Christian army [in Africa], would you defend that, too??” The answer would be, of course, no. Because Islamophobia is irrational fear. And they don’t irrationally fear Christians because of the existence of Christian terrorists. They are perfectly rational about that. The difference is what puts the phobia in Islamophobia.

That Article Insulted Bill Maher, Therefore All Its Evidence of Islamophobia Doesn’t Exist:

There isn’t any argument to report here. One commenter literally just dismissed all the evidence of all the horrible crimes and injustices and bigotry I summarized above, based solely on the fact that they didn’t like one thing the article said about Bill Maher.

This is the level of rationality we are dealing with here.

Reza Aslan Is Full of Shit, Therefore All That Article’s Evidence of Islamophobia Doesn’t Exist:

Ditto. Someone literally argued that. No comment required. Although this does neatly pair with the previous argument (so it is fascinating that they both came from the same person): one is an argument from Infallible Pope and the other an argument from Satan Sucks. So-and-so was insulted, therefore hats are shoes. And: So-and-so is a douche, therefore the moon is made of cheese.

Islamophobia Doesn’t Exist, Because Bill Maher Is Totally Right That the Vast Majority of Muslims Want to Kill Us:

Since that is not even remotely true, this argument is another glob of moon cheese. The vast majority of Muslims do not want to kill us. Even in Syria, by at least a 32 to 1 margin, the vast majority of Muslims want to be left alone and likewise leave us alone. They want nothing the fuck to do with ISIS. Many are more than content to accept a land of religious freedom as the price of getting away from them.

But when it comes to the over two million Muslims in America, the ones actually being subjected to all the violence and bigotry the article documented (the article this commenter is commenting on), if “the vast majority” of American Muslims wanted to kill us, then we’d have an ISIS army in the U.S. five times larger than in Syria by now, larger even than our own army—which is only half a million, and that’s counting all deployments worldwide; whereas the “vast majority” of American Muslims could field an army three times that size, in our homeland, overnight. But look? Almost none of the Muslims here are killing us. In fact, in fifteen years, out of over two million Muslims, barely a dozen have even tried. That’s a total headscratcher.

Do explain that Bill.

I won’t hold my breath.

Eventually, here quoting one of the Islamophobes ranting about how awful Islam was because it magically caused those infected with it to “behead” people etc., I simply asked them to answer a simple question:

How many of the over two million Muslims in the US “behead infidels, immolate apostates, crucify children, or defenestrate homosexuals”? Answer correctly. Give me the number. I’m waiting.

I won’t hold my breath. Obviously Islam is not a magic spell that turns all who embrace it into ISIS. Quite astonishingly, almost everyone it “infects” does not become anything resembling a Reaver. Most by far are entirely peaceful and even in many respects nice and neighborly, even if indeed a little bigoted, mildly dangerous to civil rights, and wrong about many things. Just like conservative Christians. In fact, they are nearly indistinguishable from conservative Christians.

But the argument is a fallacy. Again. What nonsense Bill Maher vomits on camera has no bearing at all on whether all that documented evidence of bigotry against innocent American Muslims exists (and warrants our concern, and effort to stop). So this is kind of another version of Argument from Infallible Pope. Either this Maher worshipper believes all that violence and everything is deserved, because American Muslims mostly do all want to kill us (in which case, fuck you, you Islamophobic fuckwit, pull your head out of Maher’s ass and put your Reality Glasses back on), or they are just spouting a non sequitur (So-and-so said boo, therefore hats are shoes).

That You Are Appalled at All This Islamophobia Proves You Are in Cahoots with Terrorists:

  • Yep. Someome actually responded to my posting that article with: “Sad to see the secular left become the defenders of Islam.”
  • So, even just pointing out all the unjust and bigoted abuse of innocent Muslims constitutes defending Islam as a religion, and by implication defending the terrorists that “the vast majority” of Muslims must be, so as to to deserve all the abuse the article documents.
  • That’s full on fuckbigotry.
  • Someone commented in reply with the most marvelous of restrained understatements: “Which is a misrepresentation—it’s negation of a generalization that ‘all Muslims are bad’—which is not true.” In other words, pointing out that “all Muslims are bad” is a false statement, is not “defending Islam.”
  • I have less patience by now. I call this out as Islamophobia, as I recognize the bigotry implicit in the original sentence:

    [Anyone] assuming that merely being Muslim makes you dangerous and that anyone pointing out that Muslims have the same human rights as Christians (and the same record of violence in the US…actually, the Christians are killing more of us) [is thereby abetting said danger] should be ashamed of doing so.

    It is false to assume [that] defending the 2 million+ peaceful Muslims against being treated like they were the four or five who killed anybody here [in the U.S.] as “defending Islam.” And to think those are the same thing, is Islamophobia illustrated.

    I similarly think Christians are wrong, and indeed a great many of them a threat to human rights (by preaching and voting against those rights repeatedly), but I don’t assume they are all evil or a threat, and I defend their religious liberty and other human rights, because they are human beings. I don’t treat Muslims any differently. You, evidently, do. And that’s bigotry.

  • The bigot answers that by saying we just defend Islam because ‘that’s what liberals do’, and praises Sam Harris for speaking truth to power (though Sam Harris was never mentioned by any of us in this discussion), and accuses us of “sucking the cock” of Islam. Literally.
  • I answer, with remarkable restraint:

    The violence and bigotry documented in the article, should be condemned even by Harris fanboys. That they instead defend it or make light of it [as this commenter was indeed doing], only verifies the inference that Harris’s rhetoric fans the flames and gives cover for exactly such Islamophobic acts of violence and bigotry. Anyone not appalled by the affairs documented in the article has a serious morality problem. To use “but Sam Harris is right” apologetics the moment such an article is cited, should scare you. Because that’s sounding a lot like the reactionary attitude of every other-fearing fascist movement in history.

  • They ignored everything I said and simply kept accusing me of being a collaborator.

The lesson here is, there are actual Islamophobic bigots out there who actually think all this horrible abuse of innocent American Muslims is justified by Sam Harris’s alarm-raising about the cosmic threat all Muslims pose to the existence of civilization. So all you douchebags who think that isn’t what Harris’s rhetoric has wrought (wholly regardless of what Sam Harris meant or intended), behold your monster. Maybe your Dr. Frankenstein should be taking responsibility for it? Or doing something about it? I’ll leave that for you to ask yourselves. I’m tired of that debate.

I gave up at that point. I’m sure the Islamophobes are still babbling away with their Islamophobic Islamophobia apologetics in the thread. Having never learned a damn thing. And having never expressed a single shit for all the injustice and suffering the article I posted described.

Update 1: Some have sort of almost at least admitted briefly that the Islamophobic actions exist and are wrong. But won’t call it Islamophobia. Or care about it beyond brief platitude. Is that progress?

Update 2: That the whole notion of abandoning the word Islamophobia is illogical (and really bad philosophy) I now illustrate in a comment below.

-:-

Special rule for comments on this one article: Any comment that mentions Sam Harris will be deleted unseen. It will be deleted for violating rules (1) and/or (2), as being attempts at derailing. Not a single thing I have said above requires anything to be true of anything Sam Harris has ever said (and the question of its impact I have set aside). Deal with what I am actually talking about.  This article is about the stated empirical facts, of what Islamophobia actually is, and the evidence it exists. It is not about the exegesis of your Scriptures.

101 comments

  1. I must admit that, as an atheist, I fear religion. So I am an Islamophobe. I am afraid of all religions, but I fear Islam to a greater extent, as it seems to me that Islam differs from other religious faiths, not because the Qur’an’s content is any more violent – I think it’s equal in violence to the Bible or the Torah – but because I think that, unlike Christianity or Judaism, it is taken literally, not just by a nutty fringe, but by a majority of its adherents. Fortunately, the vast majority do not put their beliefs into effect, but I fear Islam is just one step away from that, and I feel that the widely held literal interpretation of Islamic texts supports extremist violence, in that extremist views get wider support from liberal Muslims than Christian extremists do from liberal Christians.

    I’m more than willing to hear arguments showing I’m wrong in that, because I’d like to believe that most Muslims disagree with Sharia law, the killing of apostates, etc. But what I’ve seen doesn’t seem to back that up.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Check out all the links I provided of Christian and right wing terrorism. The fact that that is seven times more likely to kill you. Plus all the points I made about a quarter of Republicans wanting to institute sharia law, and over 10% in some places wanting to reinstate execution for Biblical crimes like homosexuality. About Christian fanatics actually voting in our legislatures and getting close to control of our nuclear arsenal. And so on.

      If after all that you genuinely still are afraid of “Christians,” and thus afraid of every Christian you meet, don’t want to live next to them, want them monitored by the state, or kicked out of the country, or spied on, and feel the same about Muslims (or worse), then you are indeed an Islamophobe. Your fear is irrational, and it is driving you to irrational beliefs that pose a threat to human rights and your own moral character.

      But if that’s not what you mean, and you agree that 99.99% of American Muslims are peaceful and harmless and should not be treated with any of the things I summarize in this article and that those things reflect a wildly irrational and dangerous fear that has no place in this country, then you are agreeing with my article.

      It sounds like you are closer to the Islamophobes who think Muslims in America are different from and thus scarier than conservative Christians somehow. If so, that is refuted with links in my article. Read it again. Also follow the links that show actual diversity of opinion among Muslims about such things as sharia law. Especially American Muslims. Remember a quarter of all Republican Christians also want sharia law in this country. More even than Muslims. Also as my article points out.

      It sounds, overall, that your fear is irrational, and that it may pose a danger to you and your neighbors. You might want to sit down and think about that for a while.

      Reply
      1. Trust me – I’m a whole lot more scared of Christian nutcases than I am of Islamic terrorists. I’d go into more detail. but I have a party to go to tonight, so no time.

        P.S. To clarify, I fear Christian nutcases in this country more, because there are a whole lot more of them than there are Islamic nutcases. But I fear Islam itself more, because it seems more fundamentalist.

        Reply
        1. The quantity is not a logical argument, unless you mean quantity of Christian voters for Sharia law. That’s “scary,” but only in an attenuated sense because they are less than maybe a sixth of the electorate. So they are a concern, and we must keep that from getting worse, but they we aren’t in imminent danger of them succeeding.

          Yet, they are far closer to succeeding at that, than Islamic fundamentalists are.

          Ergo, a fortiori, if we have no rational reason to be terrified of “American Christians,” and thus randomly harass and attack them and their churches and spread alarming rhetoric about Christians being rabid dogs posing an existential threat to civilization—and we do not—then we cannot have any rational reason to be terrified of “American Muslims,” and thus randomly harass and attack them and their mosques and spread alarming rhetoric about Muslims being rabid dogs posing an existential threat to civilization.

          QED.

  2. Maarten-Jan December 11, 2015, 4:31 am

    It’s so incredibly ironic that not islamic terrorism, but the response to islamic terrorism is slowly destroying western civilization.

    Reply
  3. polishsalami December 11, 2015, 4:47 am

    OK then. You can accuse __ ___ of inciting a nation-wide pogrom, but even mentioning __ ___ in the comments gets a deletion? Pure authoritarian garbage. Embarrassing.

    Reply
    1. Nice. You seem to think you have a point, yet don’t raise a single actual issue with anything argued in the article.

      Which tells me you weren’t going to. Which tells me I was right to bar that derailing tactic.

      Here’s an idea. Why not interact with the actual article you are commenting on?

      Reply
  4. Joe Salimando December 11, 2015, 6:15 am

    It’s interesting to THINK about what’s actually happening:

    1 – the number of Muslim-driven mass murder events in the U.S. is dwarfed by what normally goes on (what U.S. citizens who are not Muslims do to other U.S. citizens). Yet just what got the attention of the media? And hasn’t that attention been sustained?. . . (ok, maybe partially due to Donny The Rich Guy).

    2 – there are a lot of guns in the U.S. “Gun control” might — if instituted in all 50 states — reduce the number of guns in circulation by, say, the year 2150. Or 2217. If such a thing could be passed into law. If such a law could be enforced.

    Remember, there are laws in the U.S. against use of certain drugs, and yet these certain drugs are in circulation (relatively easy to obtain, apparently). How much trouble would “gun smugglers” have getting guns and ammo into the U.S.? It’s likely that the market (tens of millions of people) for illicit guns would greatly exceed the market for cocaine and heroin.

    One thing we’ve seen in the U.S. for over 200 years: Markets WILL be served. We can’t suppress the drug market, apparently. Could we suppress the illegal gun market?

    Are we going to somehow reshape the FBI to knock down doors all over the country to confiscate guns? Is anybody thinking about this whole thing Realistically on this continent?

    That’s not to say “gun control” is bad. It’s just an idea that won’t ever work in the United States. Probably not even in 2217.

    3. Given that some really tiny percentage of every population is a more than a bit bonkers, it seems reasonable to assume that just a few Muslims who get to the United States (or already live here) will shoot non-Muslims at some time in the future. You can’t stop the guns. You can’t stop the Islamophobia. You aren’t going to prevent a teeny-tiny group of people (ANY people) from acting crazily.

    Are you?

    As long as the media focuses on these – hopefully infrequent – shootings (to the exclusion of, say, the shooting at Planned Parenthood) — there will be headlines, Trumpisms, and Islamophobia.

    Remember that in 2001 the media’s coverage of the Anthrax Scare drove people to their doctors to get scripts for Cipro. These were not Postal Service workers or high-profile politicians. These were average Joes and Janes who saw the news about Anthrax and freaked out.

    People are easily influenced. Did you check out Trump’s poll numbers?

    4. Ban all Muslims, send the ones we have to Mexico (Donny’s next big thought, we can be sure), and this country will still have a massive number of violent events in which gun-wielding nutcases kill and wound people.

    All of the current hysteria seems to prove that it doesn’t matter if a bunch of people die each year in shootings — all that matters is if someone we collectively might not worship with ends up with an itchy trigger finger.

    5. As for Dr. Carrier’s article on Islamophobia: When I confront such idiocy, I tend to remember ONE fact (which is going to prove I am somewhat old): In the 1970s, a President named Nixon was impeached. If I’m not mistaken, the final poll taken on his popularity showed 22% of those responding SUPPORTING that SOB.

    There was one in my family. My aunt was surprised at how much I hated Nixon: “He seems like such a nice man, with such a nice family.” She had one vote. I had one vote.

    Some percentage of Americans are going to behave like total assholes. Their certainty of the Truth of Jesus gives them the wider latitude it takes to behave in crazy ways toward Muslims they meet (or seek out) in their everyday life.

    I apologize for the length of this. WHERE was I going with it? I believe it’s possible for U.S. citizens to, as a mass, stop believing in the Truth of Jesus — maybe by 2217. That might help tamp down Islamophobia. In only 102 years!

    Maybe.

    Reply
    1. Humans suck at risk assessment. Because humans aren’t innately rational. And if one doesn’t install the “sound risk assessment software patch,” they will continue to be irrational about risk.

      People readily dismiss real risks all the time, and rightly so as being small: the plane they are getting on can crash; the car they are driving can get t-boned in traffic; a thug can shoot them in a robbery if they go down to the store; a toddler living next door can shoot them by accident.

      On gun control, a black market makes the cost soar. It makes accessibility more difficult for criminals. And it creates networks that can be policed and spied on (because illegal gun ops don’t have a right to privacy). Most criminal-use guns are stolen from non-criminals; when you close that market (no guns to steal from everyday homeowners) another significant impact on criminal access to guns occurs. The expected effect has been shown in Australia to be a half reduction in gun crimes (with no replacement) and an even larger effect on gun suicides (also with no replacement), which are actually twice the number of deaths per year than gun murders and accidents.

      Although what will have the biggest effect is a change in gun culture: when most people see guns as dangerous even to have, and not glorious or necessary, they will start storing and using them more responsibly, and grow less interested in them. Which will reduce their availability, and reduce suicides and accidents considerably, saving more lives than the gun murder rate as a whole. Meanwhile, gun crime is a systemic problem largely unique to specific neighborhoods (hence there is tremendous variation across the country and even across any given state), where large-scale interventions would have an enormous impact.

      One thing we’ve seen in the U.S. for over 200 years: Markets WILL be served. We can’t suppress the drug market, apparently. Could we suppress the illegal gun market?

      People don’t get addicted to guns.

      And we police access to shoulder rockets and grenades well enough. So obviously it can be done.

      Are we going to somehow reshape the FBI to knock down doors all over the country to confiscate guns? Is anybody thinking about this whole thing Realistically on this continent?

      That isn’t what would happen (e.g. it’s not what Australia did). Which is why a culture change is more important than any new law.

      That’s not to say “gun control” is bad. It’s just an idea that won’t ever work in the United States. Probably not even in 2217.

      Certainly we should regulate guns exactly as we do cars: with mandated licensing attached to practical use & safety training and testing (and instant web-based criminal and competence background checks); registered weapons with ballistics records to immediately link a gun to a crime (just like registering cars); etc.

      That we should be doing at the very least. It would help us solve countless crimes, and drive up the cost of illegally procured weapons and ammunition, and make it easier to spy on and shut down any networks that develop for that (because being criminal, we will then be authorized to spy on and shut them down). It would also ensure only people who are trained in gun safety can buy guns or ammunition. And so on.

      Going further than that would be approaching the Australian model. I don’t think our culture is ready for that yet. But we haven’t had a Port Arthur yet. Even Sandy Hook didn’t reach that target. Though it got close.

      You aren’t going to prevent a teeny-tiny group of people (ANY people) from acting crazily.

      Indeed. Which is why mass shootings are actually trivial compared to the scale of other gun-produced evils: like suicide. Why we don’t care about the twenty thousand people a year who shoot themselves (and data shows if they didn’t have guns, most of them wouldn’t commit suicide) is a good question. Especially when we get all riled up about terrorists. Who have killed fewer people in America the last fifteen years than toddlers with guns.

      We do need some perspective.

      And maybe a better sense of priorities.

      Reply
  5. >>> “Irrational fear of the practitioners, practice, and presence of Islam (Muslims, Mosques, Korans). All documented in the article.” As, in fact, it was. Extensively. I later point out, that these three things entail, “That’s a fear of Islam, not just Muslims,” so this isn’t just “Muslimophobia.”

    That’s exactly what it is. Bigotry, which is what you are labeling Islamophobia, is by definition arranged against a person or people. It can be racist or even “religionist”. But the word for these people is “Muslims”. “Islam” just labels the religion, which is just a set of ideas tied to a book.

    So, to lean on a political neologism “Islamophobia”, is to accuse as bigots in one expression everyone who expresses concern (fears) about the ideas in Islam – not just the real bigots.

    I think your core issue revolves on this point. All the rest is beside it. Nobody in their right mind endorses the anti-Muslim bigotry and crimes you have cataloged. Yes, Christian bigotry is a huge problem, and yes it may be demonstrated to be a higher immediate risk to Westerners. No, you are not with the terrorists.

    When a Christian shoots up an abortion clinic as a consequence of clearly religious motivations, and commentators note as much, do we see attacks on those commentators as “Christianophobes”?

    Likewise your attempt to equate “Islamophobia” with anti-Semitism is misguided, and plays right into the hands of political Islamist apologists. Anti-Semitism is a fairly unique and real form of bigotry that can be considered racist, but again is a problem to the extent it is targeted at people. It is *not* the same as “Judaismophobia”.

    Reply
    1. I’m not sure if you read the article. I’ll quote it:

      I answer: “Irrational fear of the practitioners, practice, and presence of Islam (Muslims, Mosques, Korans). All documented in the article.” As, in fact, it was. Extensively. I later point out, that these three things entail, “That’s a fear of Islam, not just Muslims,” so this isn’t just “Muslimophobia.” It’s the religion causing their terror, as if it were a disease infecting “the Muslims.”

      That refutes the first half of your comment. That you didn’t know the article refuted half your comment before you made your comment, suggests to me you didn’t read the article.

      As to the rest of your comment, you only attempt to make two other points:

      When a Christian shoots up an abortion clinic as a consequence of clearly religious motivations, and commentators note as much, do we see attacks on those commentators as “Christianophobes”?

      The first section of my article refutes this comment. Which again tells me you didn’t read the article you are commenting on. That section summarizes what constitutes Islamophobia. None of it constitutes saying certain beliefs caused a criminal behavior. That is not Islamophobia. It thus wouldn’t be Christianophobia either. Islamophobia is, and I again quote the article you commenting on but didn’t read:

      …violence, intimidation, and bigotry against innocent and peaceful Muslims in the United States, including murders, shootings, assaults, mobs, acts of vandalism, racism (like open discussion of killing “ragheads”), planned acts of mass murder (luckily thwarted by the FBI), even the actual dismemberment and murder of a child in the street, all amounting to well over a thousand hate crimes targeting Muslims in the last decade.

      As well as the Nazi-style rhetoric I then document, demonizing and fear-mongering by saying factually false things about the whole Muslim population of America.

      So let’s review (let’s review what you didn’t read):

      1. None of the things I listed as Islamophobia are “criticizing Islam as a religion” or “explaining malefactors’ behaviors by appealing to their ideology.” In the last section of my article I even went into this in painstaking detail to make this perfectly clear. Read it.

      2. Demonizing innocent Christians because of the acts of Christian terrorists would be Christianophobia.

      3. Fearmongering against the entire Christian population because of the acts of Christian terrorists would be Christianophobia.

      4. Doing so by saying factually false things about Christians generally, that would be alarmist and terrifying if true, would be Christianophobia.

      5. Surrounding random churches with armed mobs because of the acts of Christian terrorists would be Christianophobia.

      6. Murdering and dismembering random children in the street leaving a church because of the acts of Christian terrorists would be Christianophobia.

      7. Shooting, murdering, assaulting random Christians because of the acts of Christian terrorists would be Christianophobia.

      8. Swarming and shouting down a Christian engineer presenting a building plan at a town hall meeting by saying he should shut up and leave because all Christians are terrorists, because of the acts of Christian terrorists, would be Christianophobia.

      Do you now understand what Islamophobia is?

      -:-

      Your second point makes even less sense:

      Likewise your attempt to equate “Islamophobia” with anti-Semitism is misguided, and plays right into the hands of political Islamist apologists. Anti-Semitism is a fairly unique and real form of bigotry that can be considered racist, but again is a problem to the extent it is targeted at people. It is *not* the same as “Judaismophobia”.

      None of this addresses what I actually did equate between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. You didn’t read the article, so let me remind you what those things actually were:

      I listed several examples of rhetoric that are identical in nature (false, fear-mongering, dehumanizing of all Muslims) to “Nazi propaganda posters and broadcasts against the threat of ‘the Jews’ in the 1930s.” You have presented no argument even relating to that actual comparison, much less rebutting it.

      I compared the Syrian refugees to the Jews (and Japanese Americans) of WWII: “What if these six million were the six million Jews liberated from concentration camps, and the fear was German saboteurs slipping in among them?” Likewise the imprisoned Japanese Americans. The analogy is clear. You have presented no argument even relating to that analogy, much less rebutting its validity.

      What did you argue then?

      You argued that showing concern for the human rights of innocent Muslims is bad because it “plays right into the hands of political Islamist apologists.” Thus, rather than sympathizing with the horrible abuse of innocent Muslims in this country, you are defending that abuse by saying we shouldn’t label it for what it is because doing so makes us collaborators with (I don’t know what you imagine) terrorists or something?

      Imagine Christians were everywhere being attacked and treated this way (all the things I listed above as actual Christianophobia), and I was calling attention to that fact, and your response was, “don’t you dare call attention to it or name it Christianophobia, because that supports Christian apologists.” That would be a nonsensical thing to say. Defending the human rights of Christians is not defending the Christian religion.

      Your second argument is self-refuting. In fact, it is an argument for my first point above: Indeed “Anti-Semitism is a fairly unique and real form of bigotry …[that] is targeted at people. It is not the same as ‘Judaismophobia’.” Indeed, that is why Islamophobia is Islamo-phobia: it is different from Antisemitism.

      People who hate the Jews hate the Jews themselves, as a race. Though racism is entangled with Islamophobia (e.g. anyone who says we should profile Muslims at airports is a racist: because they are assuming Muslims are of a visibly identifiable race, which is false), Islamophobia is the fear of Islam. It is discussed as a disease infecting people (it is thus analogous to Ebolaphobia: the fear of the Ebola that infects people; people will then fear the infected people, but only because of what they are infected with). Antisemitism doesn’t take this form (e.g. it will continue to be directed even at Jews who are atheists). People are afraid of Islam itself: thus they don’t just attack Muslims, they attack Mosques and burn Qurans, and do so because of the fear of what those things create (thus, unlike Torah scrolls and Synagogues, which Antisemites target to intimidate or humiliate the Jews, not to stop the spread of “Jewish ideology” among Gentiles), e.g. they want to prohibit the teaching of Islam, and see the teaching of Islam as an existential threat to the world.

      That is why Islamophobia is Islamophobia. As my first quote above explains.

      And for you to ignore this, and all the evidence of abuse of innocent Muslims because they carry the “disease of Islam” that this article presented, and instead engage in apologetics for the abusers of innocent Muslims, should make you ashamed of yourself.

      Reply
  6. Great Article!

    I would like to thank you for helping me introspect and realise some of my own inner inherent biases on this topic. In a way, I see my own transition history here.

    Reply
  7. StevoR December 11, 2015, 7:57 am

    So, I post the Vox article. The comments are appalling. Eventually I am forced to declare:

    It’s interesting to see how quickly just posting extensive evidence of Islamophobia, provokes numerous people to deny Islamophobia exists by expressing their own Islamophobia, thus actually adding to the evidence in the article.

    Indeed. And what we got, is a menagerie of tropes and examples of Islamophobia, and how Islamophobes justify their Islamophobia or their denial of it.

    Sounds like the phenomenon on feminist blogs / articles that the comments on any peice on feminism will then justify the need for more feminism. I gather that this phenomenon actually has a specific name / term (could be mistaken?) although I can’t now recall what it is – but seems to be a pretty strong corollary here.

    “Muslims will destroy civilization” is as irrational a thing to believe as “California will soon fall off into the sea.”

    Three words here – San Andreas fault!

    Might be getting my geology messed up but isn’t at least a large chunk of California destined to do pretty much that o r at least split off from the continent? For a certain geological value of “soon” I guess the latter could be a lot more likely than the former, yeah?

    Gotta say, well argued , well-researched and comprehensive work here Richard Carrier but yegods it is lo-ong! Thanks though, great post. Shalom, Salaam, Peace.

    Reply
    1. Sounds like the phenomenon on feminist blogs / articles that the comments on any peice on feminism will then justify the need for more feminism. I gather that this phenomenon actually has a specific name / term (could be mistaken?) although I can’t now recall what it is – but seems to be a pretty strong corollary here.

      Lewis’s Law.

      Three words here – San Andreas fault! Might be getting my geology messed up but isn’t at least a large chunk of California destined to do pretty much that o r at least split off from the continent?

      This reminds me of the time some Mexican laborers at a steelyard were arguing with each other over whether the ocean has a bottom or goes all the way through the earth. A sensible question, for anyone who hasn’t received a good education. But alas, the ocean has a bottom. (As a colleague then explained to them.)

      No, contrary to movies and mythology, the San Andreas fault will not sink the Pacific side of California. The fault represents a place where an island (the West Coast of Cal) has smashed into the continent (the rest of the U.S.). They are on two different plates. California is on the Pacific plate. The rest of America is on the Atlantic. Below that “island” is a fully solid continental shelf, which is not a separate piece but the island itself, just like any other island. So there is nowhere for it to fall.

      What is happening is that the West Coast of California is sliding north. Today it is what, and where, Baja California will be in future. It will only just keep moving north. And it will shake as it does, as its slide north rubs against the Atlantic continent, hence earthquakes. But that’s it. It will just keep sliding north, not sink into the sea (or sink at all). Hundreds of millions of years from now it might get subsumed under the arctic. But that’s hardly an urgent concern.

      But notice how popular mythologies did make you afraid of something geologically impossible. There is a valuable analogy in there.

      Reply
  8. Zam Hairess December 11, 2015, 9:21 am

    How is this free thought?

    “Special rule for comments on this one article: Any comment that mentions Sam Harris will be deleted unseen. It will be deleted for violating rules (1) and/or (2), as being attempts at derailing. Not a single thing I have said above requires anything to be true of anything Sam Harris has ever said (and the question of its impact I have set aside). Deal with what I am actually talking about. This article is about the stated empirical facts, of what Islamophobia actually is, and the evidence it exists. It is not about the exegesis of your Scriptures.”

    Reply
    1. Limiting discussion on one thread to what that thread is actually about is a requirement of freethought. Derailing is a tactic for silencing freethought by absorbing people’s time on unrelated matters. Your freedom to discuss other issues elsewhere (even other future comment threads I create) is wholly unaffected.

      Limiting comments on blog posts to what those blog posts are about has been BTW, my comments policy for many many years. Yet you only get annoyed when it stops you using a derailing tactic to try and get people to talk about something not pertinent to the actual issue we are supposed to be discussing in this specific place.

      I’ll quote my comments policy because I suspect you are too lazy to have ever read it or to read it now even though I just linked to it (emphasis now added, to assist with your intellection):

      Comments must be on-topic (meaning, relevant to the blog post they are attached to, although with the comments closing, I am now very flexible as to what I will count as relevant, so you can stretch that a little; but too much out of the box and it’s just something you’ll have to discuss with someone else until I touch on the subject again), (2) if they argue against me they must argue against things I actually said (comments that don’t I’ll feel free to delete).

      Reply
    1. I never labeled them such. Nor are they such. Nothing they have done is any of the things I or the Vox article document as Islamophobia.

      Stop using bullshit fallacies like this as an excuse to dismiss all the actual evidence we presented of the actual thing we are actually talking about.

      Even Namazie would be ashamed of you for doing that.

      Reply
    2. Although they have both been labelled exactly that by Goldsmiths University LGBT and Feminist societies, and the Hope not hate campaign group (off shoot of searchlight) in just the last few days.

      Reply
      1. The Goldsmiths groups are a bizarre outlier. I have no idea what they are on about. It isn’t logical. And plenty of feminists around the world have said so. Namazie herself has the support of several of the major feminist orgs in London and the UK.

        Reply
    3. so would it be correct to say that the progressives of goldsmiths and also Warwick university a few months ago, incorrectly labelled Maryam an islamophobe?

      Would there possibly be a disingenuous reason for doing so, just before she is about to give a talk?

      Reply
      1. I wouldn’t even say the Goldsmith groups are progressives. Their behavior so far suggests they are in fact liberal extremists (radicals), not progressives. But it’s hard to fathom, since they actually say so little.

        But yes, obviously. There is no plausible sense in which Namazie is an Islamophobe. Or even a stoker of Islamophobia. Her critiques are well-informed, properly targeted, and sensitive to the existence of innocent parties.

        As to why the three orgs at Goldsmiths think she is an Islamophobe, even they never said. Not in a single instance did they ever quote or link to or describe anything she has ever done or said that warranted their conclusions.

        So why they thought what they did cannot be known. Even they aren’t saying.

        Reply
  9. Terrence Anderson December 11, 2015, 9:57 am

    Your article betrays a heavy bias which clouds your perceptions. Also it’s a poor use of bullet points

    Also, you should cite your sources. Such as this bullet point:

    Also spreading panic over fictional ‘Muslim training camps’ hidden in the U.S., including such ridiculous and inflammatory rhetoric as claiming that “peaceful Muslim American families were in fact hiding vast training facilities that, if left undisturbed, would be used to launch terror attacks across the US.”

    The apparent purpose of this article is to prove two hypotheses:
    “Islamophobia exists in significant amounts”
    “These criteria are warning signs that you are a bigot”

    If this is the goal, you need to cite all quotations and reference all evidence clearly for the reader. Also, using other opinion articles make for bad journalism. You need to cite only evidence.

    Lastly, the size of this article is too large compared to the format which you broke it down with. It could benefit by more readability. Smaller sections, maybe images.

    —————————————————————

    On to some content:

    “Even if one wanted to harrumph at Islamic conservatives in Turkey (an actual minority there, as our Christian conservatives are here), you should note that their political wish-list does not substantially differ from far-right Christian conservatives already sitting in the U.S. legislature or rigging our elections with vast sums of slush money. And if you are a pot calling that kettle black, you might want to figure out where your shame went.”

    This is fallacious logic. Criticism of Islam is not invalidated because Christianity is messed up. Your intended argument appears to be that there are conservatives of every background, but stay within the stated hypotheses of the article or else you’re losing focus. This article is about Islamophobia.

    Some Islamophobes might hate all religions, but have specific grievances with each one. If you’re arguing that someone might be Islamophobic, it doesn’t serve your purpose to try to make an assumptive premise that ‘Islamophobes are in more or less favour of Christians’.

    You continue to lay out, implicitly, that ‘Christianity is just as bad as Islam.’

    For one, this should be explicitly stated.

    For two, you use the Crusades as reference, however the crusades did not happen in the technological era we have now. Their ignorance is not on par with the willful ignorance of the modern era. The equivalence actually exemplifies how immoral the Islamic terrorism is right now, it has even less excuses to exist in the way it does.

    For three, Islam does have unique scripture from Christianity. Remember that mainstream Islam recognizes the books of the bible as canon. But also has the Quran and the Hadiths. Mormonism functions the same way, the bible + a new book. To say that these are all equivalent is intellectually dishonest. They differ, at a bare minimum, in the absolute number of passages and dogma that they put forward. A large enough section of people take issue with these differences. Pretending that these are strictly equivalent, and *only* differing in political machinations is a dishonest, and false, equivalence

    Now, remember to stay on logical task: I’m not implicitly advocating any stances by my criticisms of this article. I’m simply critically breaking down the content posted herein.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Your article betrays a heavy bias which clouds your perceptions.

      So begins every rant of every bigot ever.

      Also, you should cite your sources.

      I did. Extensively.

      Such as this bullet point…

      Where do you think the quote comes from? Oh right, the source I cited.

      (I’ll wait until you figure out what that source is.)

      (Every quote in my article comes from a cited source. Every bullet does as well. Everything that doesn’t come from that source, I linked to another source that does. I am not aware of any exceptions, and you have identified none.)

      This is fallacious logic. Criticism of Islam is not invalidated because Christianity is messed up.

      Since I never said anything about criticism of Islam being Islamophobia, but in fact several times in the article said it wasn’t, you are the one engaging in fallacious logic it seems. You are repeating the very fallacies the article details. So I must assume you didn’t read the article. Must have been all those bullets. Too visually confusing to you, apparently.

      Your intended argument appears to be that there are conservatives of every background, but stay within the stated hypotheses of the article or else you’re losing focus. This article is about Islamophobia.

      Which requires demarcating what is irrational about it. Which requires showing that people do not behave this way over Christians. Which is an argument that clearly went right over your head.

      Some Islamophobes might hate all religions…

      Let me stop you right there. Nothing I said said anything whatever about “Islamophobes hating all religions.” You were evidently reading a different article than the one you are commenting on here. Go find that article and comment on it there. Wherever it is.

      If you’re arguing that someone might be Islamophobic, it doesn’t serve your purpose to try to make an assumptive premise that ‘Islamophobes are in more or less favour of Christians’.

      Islamophobes don’t react with fear to x when it is true “of Christians.” They do react with fear to x when it is true “of Muslims.” That demonstrates an inconsistency in their fear-response. Which illustrates that it is irrational. Unless, of course, you want to argue that we should be as scared of Christians and thus abuse innocent Christians in all the same ways my article summarizes we are abusing innocent Muslims in this country. So…is that your argument?

      You continue to lay out, implicitly, that ‘Christianity is just as bad as Islam.’

      That is a false generalization on both ends: there is no single Christianity; there is no single Islam. So there is no sensible way to say “Christianity is just as bad as Islam,” any more than it is sensible to say “liquid chemicals are just as good as solid chemicals.”

      You should not be asking me to state impossible or unintelligible things.

      Although, that you think there is one single monolithic “Islam” that can be “worse” or “better” than some other religion, is a sign of Islamophobia. You wouldn’t act that way about “Christianity,” as if all the Christian terrorism I documented was representative of “Christians in America.” You would recognize that as absurd right away. That you are blind to the fact that it is equally absurd of Islam and American Muslims is probably what makes you an Islamophobe.

      For two, you use the Crusades as reference, however the crusades did not happen in the technological era we have now.

      Funny how you ignored the rest of the paragraph that went all the way up to Christian atrocities “in the technological era,” in fact all the way up to today.

      You don’t do logic well.

      For three, Islam does have unique scripture from Christianity.

      Not really. Re-read my article’s extensive discussion of Christian fundamentalists in America citing all the murder commands in their scripture and actually trying to make them law (and almost succeeding at it in Africa).

      Any attempt you might make to argue those Christians are “misreading” their holy book, will be identical to what moderate Muslims argue that fundamentalist Muslims are “misreading” their holy book.

      You are repeating all the same fallacies as the “Bible didn’t cause the American kill-the-gays movement” guy I extensively rebut in the article. The article you are commenting on. The article you didn’t read.

      But also has the Quran and the Hadiths.

      Which Hadith do you mean? Sunni, Shia, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya? The Quranist Muslims reject the Hadith. Most Muslims in the U.S. reject most of the Hadith. It’s no different than the Talmud (which has a lot of really disgusting horrible shit in it…which almost all Jews ignore).

      To say that these are all equivalent is intellectually dishonest. They differ, at a bare minimum, in the absolute number of passages and dogma that they put forward.

      You evidently have never seen a Talmud.

      You also don’t seem to grasp that Hadith is not scripture for most Muslims. It’s commentary and advice. Just like the Talmud. (In fact they are nearly identical in structure and function: the Hadith collects oral sayings from Mohammed, not the angel Gabriel as the Quran does, so they are not revelations but his opinions, and the opinions of later scholars on that; the Talmud collects oral sayings from Moses, known as the Mishnah, and the opinions of later scholars on that).

      If we are going to include things like that, then Christianity has an extraordinarily vast literature of the same kind: from Vatican encyclicals to pop market Evangelical titles.

      You have stated not a single instance in which the quantity has any bearing on anything. Muslims in America should be treated all the horrible ways I document, because they have “a lot of books”? That’s a non sequitur.

      You have stated not a single instance in which anything in these books is (a) believed by all Muslims (or even most American Muslims) and (b) any worse than anything in the Christian, Jewish, or Mormon collections.

      So, you have failed to make any relevant point.

      Reply
  10. Keith Emmett December 11, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Hi Dr. Carrier,

    Enjoyed the article very much and broadly agreed with its points. With respect to the term ‘Islamophobia’ I’d like to offer not so much a disagreement, but more of an alternate context on its use, i.e. That of a European.

    You list/reference the incidents of violence against muslims in the US and their increased frequency. I do not doubt this whatever. Likewise when comparing casualty numbers from muslim vs’ christian killers, the christian body count is far higher, as is their baleful influence in politics. You conclude then that to fear islam in excess of christianity is to display bigotry. (I more or less agree, though I think that for at least some of those people media driven ignorance is a PARTIAL defence)
    My point, however, is that this is simply not the case in Europe. We do not have a problem with right wing christian violence whereas we do with Islamism. That is not, of course, to say that it never happens. Anders Brevic immediately springs to mind, but primarily because it is basically unique. I am telling the truth when I say that I cannot think of a single murder/terrorist act, in my lifetime, by a christian nutjob in Ireland, the UK or France. Note that I’m not saying there were none, just they are exceedingly rare, memory is fallible afterall.

    On the other hand, we do have problems with Islamists and Jihadis. There is ample polling data from amongst muslims in Europe that shows not a majority, but still worryingly high support for violent Islamist actions, like the Charlie Hebdo killings. Support for criminality of apostasy, adultery and gays is considerably higher again, in the case of blasphemy it’s over 75% in the UK. Percentage of Turks with a “favourable” veiw of ISIS is double digits.

    Anywho I digress. My point is that, in Europe, to fear Islamism over Christian violence is NOT irrational, and therefore not islamophobic I would argue.

    And finally (thank fuck says you), I must admit that I do bristle at the word itself, instead of just bigotry or discrimination aimed at muslims. I don’t claim knowledge of the US, but in Europe this word is almost always applied by Islamist apologists to sensor criticism. I understand your frustration with people trying to play semantic games, that is not my intent, but usage defines meaning and thats how its used here. Bigotry against muslims must be addressed and is a genuine problem, albeit less so than is often claimed. Claims of its instance have been widely debunked and in many cases shown to be semantic games themselves. E.g. The Manchester police reported that Islamophobic attacks had increased by 70%. An “islamophobic attack” was defined on their website as any incident defined as such by the victim! Seriously you couldn’t make this shit up. And where did they get this nonsense? From an Islamist group and their (self proclaimed) “community leader”.

    So there you go, I do reject Islamophobe but I do so not on semantics, but in the context of a Europe where christian motivated violence is to all intents and purposes non-existent, and one where its people are struggling to come to terms with some deeply antithetical views being held by a worrying number of its muslim citizens, the public representatives of whom stifle debate with cries of racism.

    Sincerely,
    Keith

    P.s. Have recently started ‘On the historicity of Jesus Christ’. Great so far, fascinating stuff.

    Reply
    1. You do remember you Europeans gave us Hitler and Il Duce, right? In the living memory of people still among us?

      The greatest Christian atrocity of the 20th century happened on your soil.

      Are people on account of that abusing Christians in any of the ways I document Muslims in America are?

      If not, then what’s your point?

      That we ought to treat Muslims like this in Europe now?

      Reply
    2. Keith Emmett December 11, 2015, 4:50 pm

      “You do remember…Hitler and Il Duce, right?…Are people on account of that abusing Christians in any of the ways I document Muslims in America are?”

      No of course not, but I fail to see the relevence of that. Obviously I was talking specifically about Europe today, not the 1940’s. If Islamism is a threat NOW, and christianity isn’t, then its simply not the same thing is it?

      Are you suggesting we (in Europe) should worry about christianity because of what it was 70 years ago, or what it may become in the future, as opposed to what Islam is for some today? Worry over hypotheticals as we do over genuine threats?

      “That we ought to treat Muslims like this in Europe now?”

      What!? Of course not! No-one should be abused like that anywhere. Look, I apologise if I was unclear, but you have completely misunderstood me. Bigotry against muslims is unacceptable, anywhere. You argued, succesfully I felt, that worry about Islam was unjustified given the facts in a certain context. All I argued was that in Europe TODAY, that context does not apply, and therefore the conclusion doesnt follow either. Beyond that, the label of Islamophobe is thrown about primarily, though not exclusively, to silence legitimate worry and criticism of the threat posed by Islamists and that is why I dislike it.

      Reply
      1. I’m glad you clarified that point. Yes, even though the conditions are more ridiculous in the U.S., that still doesn’t even warrant behaving the same way in Europe! I concur.

        But, though moot perhaps, I don’t think you should make so light of recent mass scale war crimes committed by Christians in Europe within the memory of people still living.

        You would reject abusing Christians in Europe, with all the evil I summarize, because of that (even in 1945, much less now). So you would (as you agree) reject abusing Muslims on the same specious rationale. Your Christians can be just as evil, in fact far worse, and recently have been. (Before we even get to the Serbian genocide.)

        So, yes, Europeans shouldn’t act all high and mighty about their superiority to some few Muslim immigrants who haven’t assimilated yet. Tomorrow, the next blackshirts could actually be winning seats in your legislatures. Some already are (I’m sure you are well aware of the rose of white supremacist and fascist groups in Europe, building in fact on Islamophobia). Christians are not morally superior to Muslims. They have in living memory conducted considerable evils in Europe. And there are examples of groups well poised to do so again if the people of Europe let them. Islamophobia would be one obvious pathway. Just like Anti-Semitism was. All you need is one more Great Depression, and Hitler is around the corner.

        You shouldn’t be complacent about that. (Progressives in the U.S. are not; we are well aware of the same dangers here.)

        Reply
  11. alanuk December 11, 2015, 2:03 pm

    TL;DR but just taking your first two bullet points:

    A third of Republicans want Islam outlawed and all Muslims banned from public offices.

    Then:

    A major conservative group easily raised tens of millions of dollars in donations for its campaign to “inform” the public via mass media that “nearly every” Muslim American group, “including campus student groups,” are “extremist sleeper cells bent on launching ‘stealth jihad’ and subverting the Constitution.”

    Even I can see the irony.

    Reply
    1. I’d say America today is probably closer to the second form of nationalism as well. It’s nationalism that is built around a collective anger at the loss of an idealized and ultimately imaginary past, combined with some sort of reactionary attack against a scapegoated minority. That’s ISIS, Germany, and the US today to a tee. The majority are not prospering, so they blame the minority. Combine that with justification for retribution via divine law and pro imperialist religious doctrine, and you have the recipe for disaster that is ISIS.

      If ISIS truly is a wing of Salafist extremism, as it has every indication of being (Saudi funding, anti-Shiite, extreme and oppressive patriarchy), then their reaction as a group is not to US interventionism whatsoever, but rather to secularism. Secularism and the Shiites who support are first and foremost their enemy.

      Reply
      1. Secularism is only incidentally their target (in that it cannot exist if their spiritual triumphalism is to be vindicated, and they blame secularism for causing the things that caused us to fuck them over). The actual cause underlying it is us fucking them over. For example, invading their country, killing their families and friends and children, destroying their country’s infrastructure, and then backing a sham Shiite leader so as to extract and profit from all the oil leaving no money for the people who live on the land it is taken from (in reality, China is doing that, though that isn’t what we had planned on, and we are still seen as the despoilers), who then brutally oppressed and murdered and dispossessed and disenfranchised them and their families and friends and children even further, leaving their region in ruin and the people in abject poverty while they watch our ridiculous displays of wealth and arrogance in our movies, and all of this, all of it and more, they can’t explain without cognitive dissonance, and so they resolve that dissonance with the equation (common now, as you note, among the increasingly dispossessed Christian conservatives in the US) that we must be in league with the Devil, and God will surely avenge them soon, and they are the arm of God’s vengeance against us.

        They would be doing all this, even if secularism didn’t exist.

        So secularism isn’t really the cause. It’s just the accidental bystander.

        They are drawing disaffected soldiers from other regions playing on the same psychological motivations: their feelings of disenfranchisement, dispossession, humiliation by a world that no longer cares for them, treats them like shit, and leaves them in abject poverty while dining on their backs, and even props up, directly funds, and openly supports brutal dictators who are our collaborators in their despoliation and impoverishment.

        These people also want revenge, and are seduced by the notion that ISIS is God’s arm of vengeance, that this is it, that this is when it happens, and they can avenge all the wrongs done them, and be a part of something bigger than themselves, the realization of God’s crushing will on all Satan’s spawn, reversing the order of despoliation, murder, and humuliation, setting the world back right, when all is just, and we, who are the ones who actually “deserve” in their eyes to be “despoiled, murdered, and humuliated,” will be. At their God-supported hands.

        You may have overlooked the link I tucked into the article, with the sentence, “ISIS is not actually recruiting fighters on a platform of sharia law, but simply absorbing dispossessed men on a revenge kick, most of whom actually don’t give a shit about sharia law.”

        You might be interested in going to that link and reading the article there:

        What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters,” abstract: “They’re drawn to the movement for reasons that have little to do with belief in extremist Islam.”

        If you want to understand what ISIS is really all about, you have to read that.

        Reply
    2. “What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters,” abstract: “They’re drawn to the movement for reasons that have little to do with belief in extremist Islam.”

      If you want to understand what ISIS is really all about, you have to read that.

      Also here’s an article about one of the masterminds behind ISIS, it paints a similar picture but from the recruiter’s point of view rather than the recruit’s point of view:

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-files-show-structure-of-islamist-terror-group-a-1029274.html#spRedirectedFrom=www&referrrer=

      Reply
  12. A useful comment exchange from Facebook, beginning with a commenter who said:

    Russia just made homosexuality illegal. So have some African nations, with the encouragement and support of Americans. Plenty of Christians in the U.S. still talk about wanting it to be illegal. Pretty sure that’s rather popular in South America too. There are Muslim nations where homosexuality is not illegal.

    I don’t see why [anyone thinks] there’s some significant difference. And Carrier’s article outlines that in more detail. It’s just what Christians happen to be able to get away with less than an extremist group in its own territory. These are differences in exactly how much power or leeway specific groups happen to have at the moment, not a fundamental difference in the religions.

    That was an apt observation. On which I expanded:

    If we historically swapped out Islam for Christianity, having Islam arise in the 1st AD and Christianity arise in the ravaged landscape of the decline of the West in the 7th AD, Islam would have controlled Europe and had the scientific and industrial revolutions, and Christianity would have become the eternally troubled Middle Eastern second-placer. A radical Islamic President named George Bush would then invade Christian Iraq calling it a crusade against the Christian terrorism of 9/11, fuck over the region leaving a massive power vacuum and millions of resentful people we betrayed, and a Christian ISIS would be chopping off heads in Syria today.

    That doesn’t mean Islam and Christianity are not causes of evil. It means they are not, by themselves, causes of evil (as the millions of peaceful Muslims in the U.S. proves). You need a conjoint cause. And we should be afraid of the conjunction of causes, not the causes separately by themselves, and we should be doing something to pull those causes apart so they no longer conjoin. Harassing and murdering and assaulting (and fearmongering and lying about) innocent Muslims does fuck all to that end.

    Reply
    1. Nationalism would be the conjoining cause. The combination of religion with the apparatus of the state is the cause of an incredible amount of human suffering, and within such a union lie the seeds for fascism. It’s as troubling when Christians attempt to add Creationism to the curriculum as it is when Islamic countries prohibit atheists from speaking openly. We should be just as appalled by non Muslims who face persecution in the Muslim nations as we are of non Christians facing persecution in the US; and anybody who doesn’t celebrate the actions and deeds of those who do speak out against such actions, is complicit in there continued existence.

      Reply
      1. A valid sentiment

        -:-

        Nationalism is a proxy, though. It doesn’t exist except from either of two other causes: extraordinary success that breeds arrogance (nationalism as material exceptionalism); or extraordinary abuse or neglect that breeds resentment (nationalism as spiritual exceptionalism).

        The U.S. reflects the first kind (currently). Nazi Germany the second (WWI + Great Depression caused WWII). ISIS is also the second kind (its nationalism is a product of American abuse and exploitation of the peoples and resources of the region), as is Iran (whose current regime was created by the same causes: our meddling, abuse, and exploitation of Iran, revenge against which led to evicting our Shah and installing supposedly spiritually superior avengers, producing, unexpectedly, essentially an Orwellian state not all that different from the USSR).

        But even within those categories, there is variation. The beliefs and motivations of ISIS and Iran are actually very different. Though they touch on similar points, they are ultimately different brews. And they are governed by very different kinds of people. Even before we get to the fact that one is Sunni and the other Shia (thus akin to a war between Protestants and Catholics). Turkey is also predominately Sunni, so you have some idea of how radically varied even Sunnis can be (Islam in Turkey is almost the diametric opposite of the Islam of ISIS).

        But the similarities are this spiritual sense of inevitable righteousness: We have fucked them over so much, that surely God must be waiting in the wings to give them revenge. The exact same reasoning that destroyed the last pre-modern Jewish nation by goading them to war with Rome. (Notably, ancient Judea, not all that different from ISIS.)

        Reply
  13. Alex Dalton December 11, 2015, 4:18 pm

    Look how Richard tries to spin this. He writes “even the actual dismemberment and murder of a child in the street”. What he’s referring to is this from the article he links: “That December, a man in Kansas City wrote on his SUV that the Quran was a “disease worse than Ebola,” and then drove the vehicle into a 15-year-old Muslim boy in front of a local mosque, severing his legs and killing him.” So we see the added spin here, leaving out the fact that it is vehicular, and just referring to it as an act of dismemberment – probably to try to make anti-Muslim violence sound as bad as some of the ISIS acts of dismemberment. He also leaves out the age and just uses the vague, but much more emotionally potent, reference to him as a “child”. The worst part is that, you would think that Richard the “historian” would actually do something like actual research into a claim like this, check his sources maybe? After all, he has made a living off of pointing out errors of historical reporting in ancient texts. And guess what? In this instance, it couldn’t be any easier! All he had to do was click through on the article he linked, which LINKS to the reporting of the case in question. And what does that article tell us? “A Chevrolet Blazer speeding eastbound sideswiped the car and struck Abdisamad, nearly severing his legs.” This was actually a case of mistaken identity where the driver murdered this man thinking he was a member of a group who had directly threatened his life. Ahmed Aden, the murderer, is a Somali who had recently converted from Islam to Christianity. Whatever we make of all this disgusting mess, it is CERTAINLY not an “actual dismemberment”, and this is very sloppy even for Richard. This is the problem with most of the work I’ve read of his. It just takes too much time to check his sources and time and time again he misrepresents, and distorts.

    Reply
    1. Why does it matter whether you use a car or a chainsaw to dismember someone?

      And no, that article contains no evidence “this was actually a case of mistaken identity where the driver murdered this man thinking he was a member of a group who had directly threatened his life” (it says he believed all Islamists were out to kill him). And no, that article contains no evidence that “the murderer…recently converted from Islam to Christianity.”

      Nor would either of those things have any bearing on the case being Islamophobia. When you scrawl “The Quran is a disease worse than Ebola” and drive it over a kid in the street, killing and dismembering him, you are an Islamophobe. Who murdered and dismembered a kid in the street. Merely for walking out of a mosque.

      Reply
  14. Alex Dalton December 11, 2015, 4:46 pm

    Richard – again, you have trouble with reading comprehension. If you click through to the actual article it says “nearly severing his legs” as I posted. So there is not an actual dismemberment. Click on the phrase they hyperlinked “severing his legs” and read THAT article that they source, which says “nearly severing his legs”. We see how inaccuracies abound when we keep adding to the spin. Think about it Richard – what’s the goal of your article here? You’re comparing Christian and Islamic Terrorism for a large part of it. And we all know everyone is (rightfully horrified) by Islamic beheading and dismemberment. So the better question is not around whether “nearly severing someone’s legs” with a car is ACTUALLY equivalent to dismemberment (we all know it is not ACTUALLY dismemberment), the question is why did you leave out that this was a sideswiping with a vehicle from a man who claims his life was threatened (click through for my mistaken identity/threat claim too – also in the article they link to), why did you leave out the age? How dumb do you think we are? “A child dismembered in the street!!!” right? LOL. You are trying to resonate with what people already see as horrific in some of the crimes of ISIS, and you are presenting things in a distorted an inaccurate way to do so.

    Reply
    1. Alex Dalton December 11, 2015, 5:10 pm

      Richard writes: “And no, that article contains no evidence that “the murderer…recently converted from Islam to Christianity.”

      Nor would either of those things have any bearing on the case being Islamophobia.

      >>>You were firstly wrong about the article not containing evidence that he was attempting to kill a member of a group that directly threatened his life. From the article: “he driver of the SUV, Ahmed H. Aden, a 34-year-old Kansas City truck driver, told police after his arrest that he had been searching for men who’d threatened him nine days earlier. And he said he planned to kill those men if he found them, according to court records.” So while you missed that, somehow what you *did* read was “it says he believed all Islamists were out to kill him”. Now that *would* mildly support use of a term like Islamophobia and would be convenient for you, but funny…I can’t find anywhere in the article under question, that actually says that. So *where* did you read this? Maybe you should take you should slow down a little bit.

      And you are right that the article didn’t claim he was a convert from Islam, but if you look the case up through other sources (which you should be doing anyway), you’ll find that to be the circumstance. He’s from war-torn Somalia where 99.8% of the population is Muslim so its likely. If you look further into it, his family apparently says he was schizophrenic and often would forget to take his meds, was paranoid often believing he was being followed, he was admitted to a mental hospital for 2 years, had made other threats of mass violence (once against the social security office), etc. So if you want to exploit this dude with mental issues as a case of Islamophobia, based on a distorting of the evidence, by all means, have at it…

      Reply
    2. You think irrelevancies (“how severed” some legs were, so as to count as dismemberment) have any pertinence to the evidence or conclusions of my article.

      That is perverse. And betrays your complete disinterest in what this article is actually about. And your complete callous inhumanity toward the victims of brutality.

      Reply
  15. Several have sent me a good article by Maajid Nawaz (whom Sam Harris typically endorses) on why the Islamophobic false dichotomy (that Muslims are always fundamentalists and can never be peaceful Western defenders of modern liberalism or anything in between) is being strategically exploited by ISIS, making Islamophobes themselves unknowingly complicit (aka “dupes”) in ISIS’s strategy: How to Beat Islamic State. Good example of explaining the difference between Islam and Islamism (which Islamophobes conflate), and that American Muslims as a group cannot be painted with the latter. It is a peculiar feature of rare and particular groups of relatively small size compared to surrounding Muslim populations.

    He cites some unreliable polls (ignoring the distinction between first generation immigrants and natural born UK citizens, for example). But even so.

    As he concludes:

    Absent an accurate language that explains the difference between Islamist ideologues and the majority of non-Islamist Muslims, anxious non-Muslims in the West can be more easily alarmed by blaring media coverage and attention-seeking politicians. Some will simply assume that the problem is Islam itself and all Muslims per se, which helps to explain the rise of xenophobic politics in both Europe and the U.S.

    Yup.

    Reasoned and accurate critique is needed. Not the shit I document being done to American Muslims.

    And we need to attack the actual Muslims who are the problem. Not the millions who aren’t.

    Reply
    1. And you’ll notice he doesn’t use the word “Islamophobe” once.

      Instead, he refers accurately to ‘anti-Muslim bigots’, and ‘xenophobic politics’.
      On the other side words like: Islamism, theocracy, jihadism.

      Do you think it’s because he doesn’t have “Islamophobia” in his vocabulary – or perhaps because he wants to use precise and consistent language that touches the issues directly instead of collapsing into a semantic and political quagmire?

      Reply
      1. I am sure he wants to avoid the same rhetoric you have witnessed arise here. That’s one way to do it. I’d rather confront the irrationality of that rhetoric. That’s my choice as a writer. And it’s more in keeping with the fact that I am a philosopher.

        Reply
  16. As a citizen of the US in the deep south, I am much more worried about fundamentalist Christians than I am about fundamentalist Muslims. I recognize that attitudes of bigotry towards dark skinned Muslims is incredibly prevalent; and I support taking in Syrian refugees and a policy of open discussion, tolerance, and mutual aid among Muslim Americans and the rest of the US. The vast majority of American Muslims have seen firsthand how terrifying an oppressive religious state can be, and are therefore advocates against its formation, not supporters of ISIS or terrorists.

    As a human being, I am much more worried about the human rights abuses inflicted on dissenters by majority Muslim nations than I am about those inflicted on dissenters in majority Christian nations. A poet is getting executed for heretical belief in Saudi Arabia, BY THE GOVERNMENT. The Muslim world has existed for only 90 years without a caliphate. The marriage between nation and state (which is essentially fascism) is much more closely tied together in Muslim majority nations because the very concept of a “Kingdom of God” is viewed radically different in both religions (particularly among Sunni Muslims, as a strong majority still support the idea of a religious state).

    Both are wrong and it’s not Islamophobia to recognize these as separate but important issues.

    Reply
  17. Mitch Buchanan December 11, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Hello Dr. Carrier. I am a longtime fan of both your books and your blog. I have noticed that your last few blog posts have been extremely long and difficult to read. I know that someone with your level,of intellect and historical knowledge has a lot of profound things to say about every topic, but I think that your writing style makes your great ideas and insights less acessible to the general publicf that possesses only an average intellect.

    Might I suggest hiring an editor? There is an easy solution. Your network co-blogger Alex Gabriel is currently struggling fonancially, and his work has not been as lucrative and profitable as yours. With the recent success of OHJ and your other business endeavors, would you consider hiring Alex to edit your blog? This would be a net win all around, for you, Alex, and your readers.

    Keep up the good eork, but remember to try and be more concise!

    Reply
    1. Not interested.

      In depth and thorough treatments of subjects, that become the best and most accurate treatments of those subjects on the blogosphere, is my area. That is what I am good at, and contributing to the movement. And I’m doing well at it. So I have no financial incentive either. I am more like a Wikipedia writer, composing authoritative essays on subjects, than a journalist just briefly commenting on things.

      There is in fact no way to cut these articles, without removing evidence and arguments, and it is precisely such “missing evidence” and “missing arguments” that critics then pounce on to claim an article failed to make its point. Thus necessitating that no evidence and arguments be left out. Precisely to stymie the critics. That is the function of my writing. It ends all rational debate. Thus all continuing debate becomes demonstrably irrational (note how many times I catch people making arguments in response to an article, that the article already rebutted, thus exposing that they didn’t read the article, and have no actual arguments against what it actually said).

      That does not mean this month’s articles are typical, though. They aren’t uncommon (my detailed treatment of Maurice Casey, for example). But they aren’t universal, either (e.g. the very first article this month was substantially shorter).

      It’s actually just a statistical fluke that necessitated the last two be exceptionally ong: my discussion of EvoPsych had to be impeccable and certain of avoiding all whack-a-mole apologetics; and this post had to address all the arguments actually made, since that is what the article is about, and it had to be exhaustive in presenting evidence, because all the opponents of its claims kept insisting there wasn’t enough evidence, so refuting them required presenting “enough evidence” by their exaggerated standards).

      And that is what I, as a blogger, do. And do well.

      Reply
  18. @ Richard Carrier – December 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm : Thanks. Lewis’es law was definitely the one I was thinking of and didn’t know that about the California plate tectonics and future geographic shift so something new learnt today – cheers!

    Reply
  19. Sol Rosenberg December 11, 2015, 10:25 pm

    Spot on.  I totally agree with your point about Christian conservatives being worse than ISIS.  The Rethuglican hypocrites love to talk about the “horrors” of ISIS while ignoring the things that they and there supporters do that are so much worse.

    Conervatives complain about how ISIS treats the LGBTQIAP+ community.  They have no room to talk considering the horrors they inflict upon that community themselves.  There are still bakeries and photographers who refuse to serve gay weddings.  We have the Stonewall movie committing discursive violence against LGBTQIAP+ people of color by whitewashing their stories and marginalizing their voices. We even have reality tv stars abusing their platform to violently marginalize the community.  ISIS has nothing on Phil Robertson.

    There is also a lot of hand wringing about supposed rape of Yazidi women by ISIS.  These are the same scum that support and promote a horrific rape culture here in America.  Women in American universities face a near 100% certainty of being raped, which an even more horrific situation than women face in Iraq or Syria.

    We have women getting brutally gang raped at Duke and the University of Virginia, and the rapists escape justice by virtue of membership in a Lacrosse team or a fraternity.  And let’s not forget Emma Sulkowitz, who bravely carried a mattress to class for an entire year, a longer and more brutal brutal trek than any Syrian refugee has made.

    Beyond the hypocrisy over ISIS, the racist Christian conservatives always ignore the positive aspects of Islam and Islamic societies.  Traditional Islamic garb like the Burqa can, protect women from misogynistic sexual objectification.  The Burqa is also empowering to trans women, and enables them to live without the brutal social pressure to be passable. Countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia have also been very proactive about stopping harmful and harassing social media posts. While those countries still need to,improve in some areas, they set an example for America to follow in terms of dealing with cyber-violence.  By following their example we wouldn’t have millions of cyber-violence victims like Melody Hensley and Suey Park who endure debilitating conditions like PTSD.

    Thank you for This article.  Please keep exposing the islamophobes for the ignorant charlatans that they are.

    Reply
    1. You are repeating the fallacy I wrote a whole section on in the article you are commenting on: the Argument from Boko Haram.

      Your argument is thus already refuted in the article. You offer no rebuttal. I consider that an admission of defeat. You clearly didn’t learn anything, and still don’t understand anything.

      Meanwhile, who is far closer to controlling thousands of nukes? ISIS or The Family?

      I won’t hold my breath for your answer.

      Reply
  20. Cartimandua December 11, 2015, 11:47 pm

    Hi Richard. Thank you for your detailed and very thorough treatments. I agree that the full force of scholarship should be brought down, barrage like, on these topics.

    My only recommendation is this: wikipedia often uses an executive summary paragraph and.a table of contents to flag the argument for a casual reader. Footnotes are usually listed in proper format at the bottom of the page.

    Given some of your (wonderful) articles run to 7000 words or more, would you consider these approaches?

    Regardless, please keep on keeping on.

    Reply
    1. I try to write without need of footnotes (hyperlinking is a superior technology, negating the need for the “footnote”; one day, every page in every source that exists will have a URL; we aren’t quite there yet).

      If I have to use footnotes, my tendency is to publish such writing in print, not online (hence my books, anthology chapters, and magazine and journal articles). I deviate from this from time to time, but it is not my preference to do so.

      Reply
  21. warney December 12, 2015, 2:42 am

    @ Keith Emmett (#11):

    Your memory is indeed deficient if you have already forgotten the deeply sectarion nature of the issues in Northern Ireland.

    People living in enclaves depending on what religion they were?

    Religious communities separated by “Peace Walls”?

    Parks split in two by fences separating religious communities?

    People being hounded from their homes en masse for reasons of religion?

    I know that there is a narrative that the issues in Northern Ireland was a struggle which involved the Unonist/Republican sides and saw both sides also by coincidence represent almost exactly two separate strands of Christianity. One side wanted to remain part of the UK, one side wanted a united Ireland, and the religions were irrelevant. Except that they weren’t. There was some very naked sectarianism evident, and it found the most violent expression. I would recommend looking up the Shankhill Butchers – one of the nastiest groups of people in what was a very dirty conflict. They were purely sectarian in their motives. They’d pick up a Catholic, bring him back to their drinking club and torture him on stage before dumping the body. *On stage*. For the entertainment of the punters in their social club.

    Here are some Catholic children walking to school. Their route brings them through a Protestant area.

    I’ve seen my country riven by sectarian hatred. It went both ways, by the way.

    Mr Carrier, I’ve been a critic in the past. I’ve got halfway through your article and will finish it later. Thus far I’ve been nodding in agreement at every single point. The piece has found its way into my bookmarks as a valuable resource and set of links. Aside entirely from the conclusions I’ve read – with which I am in entire agreement – the links are a very valuable resource.

    My heartiest thanks for putting together such a comprehensive piece. Islamophobia is a very live issue and demands a rational analysis. This is one of the first I’ve read.

    I’d add one final point. Sharia is anomalous to Halakha in many ways. In the UK, Sharia is used as a voluntary adjunct to civil law when there is a dispute between Muslims. It is entirely opt in and it cannot impose punishments; rather it adjudicates in disputes. People view it with horror, yet seem to have no issue with Jews having their own Halaakha system involving courts, judges, etc.

    Reply
    1. Warney, good point. That example (of the Irish conflict) slipped my mind in comments (though I did remember to include it in the article). And your illustration of it is a valuable contribution.

      Also, yes, in the U.S., many religions have their own private legal systems (the Jewish courts for Hasidim; the Amish have something similar; even the Southern Baptist Synod, the Catholic Church, and the Church of LDS, and Scientology have their own systems of internal jurisprudence; the JWs have something similar in the form of their shunning network). They are, as you say, “opt-in,” meaning you can avoid their sentences merely by leaving the community (and the secular state legal system will back your choice to do that). And their punishments are limited by hard limits in civil rights (they can’t involuntarily imprison, obviously, nor mutilate or kill). There is no sense in being worried about Sharia equivalents, and not at the same time just as worried about all the others we’ve already been tolerating and legalized for decades upon decades. And though we can criticize them all on moral grounds, none of them are grounds for such displays of fear as my article documents, since they are easily escaped: one simply need choose to leave. The concern rises when cults start trying to inhibit that right, and then we should and often do indeed take right action (hence, David Koresh, Mormon polygamy cults; we ought to be doing the same with Scientology; I am aware of communities in Canada where ghettoization is facilitating rights abuse among Muslim community members in the same way these other cults do, and that deserves as much concern and legal intervention as any other).

      However, I do not know how things operate in the U.K. I don’t know what rights religious courts have there (presumably they can’t kill people?), or how much actual protection and monitoring is being given to prevent cultification and abuse (like we do here, although even we could be more vigilant).

      Reply
  22. Richard,

    Since I’m married to a Christian, that kind of suggests I’m not terrified of all Christians, so I think maybe my previous one-liner messages were unclear (I had about a minute to write each, so they written in a rush). I don’t fear Christians – certainly not all of them. I fear Christianity for the violence, hatred and xenophobia in its holy book, which some Christians believe is inerrant.

    Also, I’m not sure how you get from my statement of fear of Islam, which is very different from hatred of Muslims, to your response that seems to indicate that you think my fear of Islam might lead to my wanting to “randomly harass and attack them and their mosques and spread alarming rhetoric about Muslims being rabid dogs posing an existential threat to civilization.” I have never come close to even considering a desire for any of that.

    Also, I think there’s a much bigger miscommunication here, because your first response indicates that you see my fear of religion as irrational. Religious texts have been used by religious nutcases as a “reason” to kill people for centuries. That frightens me, and justifiably so, I think. Surely it’s not irrational for an atheist like me to fear people who take literally passages like…

    Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
    or…
    Psalms 14:1 The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.

    I fear these religions for their violent and hate-filled texts. I don’t necessarily fear religious people, UNLESS they support the violent, murderous, hate-filled and misogynistic texts.

    Reply
  23. stevenjohnson2 December 12, 2015, 5:49 am

    People who criticize Islam, or so they say, but don’t have any problems with the US governments intimate alliance with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE strike me as fundamentally Islamophobic. And ex-Muslims who write books in English criticizing Islam for people in majority Christian countries instead of writing for people who shared their background strike me as fundamentally Islamophobic. And Christian Zionists strike me as fundamentally Islamophobic.

    Is this unfair of me?

    Reply
    1. There are too many claims in there to suss them all out. Many Islamophobes do have problems with US cozying with SA et al., or see that as realpolitik (they still fear and loathe Saudis et al. but see the need of keeping control of them on the chess board). I don’t know if all Christian Zionists share what is though a prevalent Islamophobia in that movement. And there are too many different ex-Muslims with too many different objectives in writing to make such a blanket statement about them. Even the likes of Hirsi Ali is writing to Westerners as a lobbyist to drum of support for Western crusades against Islam. One can debate whether she sticks to the right targets (e.g. only such orgs as ISIS) or Islamophobically overgeneralizes (to the entire Islamic world), but that debate would have nothing to do with what audience she writes for.

      It’s exceedingly difficult to write counter-apologetics for the Muslim world, as it is often simply illegal to publish it there, or extralegally sanctioned (e.g. bookstores burned down that sell it, writers assassinated), or won’t sell enough to support a writer, or there is literally no publishing industry there a foreigner can access at all (one reason why I can’t get my books into Pakistan; I just recently was able to get some donated copies into the Hindu part, but there is no way to sell books, even there). And there is the language incongruity. The biggest country where you could publish such stuff, doesn’t speak much Arabic (Turkey). So only specialists can reach that market. Though that country does have counter-apologetics publications, so one can’t say the market is being neglected. Meanwhile, a target of a lot of counter-apologetics are Muslim communities in Western countries, which is sensible, as that will accelerate their assimilation (by increasing the rate of liberalization per generation, since they are already under strong influence to liberalize for already living in a liberal state that will protect their right to leave conservative enclaves of it).

      For harder to penetrate countries, the internet is already doing everything you would want in this domain (as I actually know first hand: my writings online have deconverted Muslims as far away as Saudi Arabia and Iran).

      Reply
  24. Dr. Carrier,
    Ho. Lee. Shit. This is awesome! Without any doubt the most extensive and definitive fisking on this topic we’ve seen. And we agree entirely with your response @19. It’s practically a mathematical proof much more so than an opinion piece and those who are unmoved by it either haven’t read it or haven’t understood it. Period. There seem to be no other excuses available at this point given your treatment. You have created what is essentially a litmus test for rationality.

    The parallels with Naziism are very troubling indeed and this kind of strong pushback is vitally important. It’s not just ordinary citizens but it’s actual politicians and presidential hopefuls who are openly trading in Islamaphobia now. Are there historical lessons to be drawn from Nazi era Germany as to how this tidal wave of bigotry could be stopped before it progresses to the point of legalized discrimination and maltreatment? Aside from electing someone other than Trump that is… What more can be done to minimize the chances of history repeating itself?

    As for your update to the OP it does seem like progress of a sort. At least it seems like steps in the right direction. Begrudging admissions and acknowledgements. What seems to be happening is that the relatively more rational and reasonable (albeit ignorant and misguided) folks amongst your interlocutors have begun to read this article and or your other responses and like it or not they’re beginning to be swayed by it. Some of those folks are likely to come around to the right side of this issue entirely given continued exposure to good information and sound solid arguments and more time to mull it all over. Would you ever consider putting this into the format of a live talk or video or even a live debate? Wondering if that might help it reach a wider audience and give it even more salience.

    Reply
    1. Sadly the only lesson to learn from Nazi Germany is: don’t let the economy collapse when this scale of xenophobia is energizing the electorate.

      I honestly don’t see any other way to stop it.

      I don’t know that a live talk would be helpful. If people can’t even be bothered to read a carefully constructed and sourced essay, they aren’t going to be helped by a much less nuanced-and-thorough ramble on camera. That will simply trigger their irrational responses all the more readily (as then they won’t already have been rebutted before they even reply).

      Reply
  25. Hans M. December 12, 2015, 3:31 pm

    Dr. Carrier, you wrote:

    “But yes, obviously. There is no plausible sense in which Namazie is an Islamophobe. Or even a stoker of Islamophobia. Her critiques are well-informed, properly targeted, and sensitive to the existence of innocent parties.”

    And in the article:

    “I answer: “Irrational fear of the practitioners, practice, and presence of Islam (Muslims, Mosques, Korans). All documented in the article.” As, in fact, it was. Extensively. I later point out, that these three things entail, “That’s a fear of Islam, not just Muslims,” so this isn’t just “Muslimophobia.” It’s the religion causing their terror, as if it were a disease infecting “the Muslims.””

    “They just want to be able to criticize Islam. Because it’s scary. More so than Christianity for some reason. And being more scared of Islam than Christianity? That’s Islamophobia.”

    While Maryam Namazie is always careful to distinguish between Muslims and Islamists, she also makes a distinction between Muslims and Islam, and she attacks Islam mercilessly – as a religion (while stressing that Muslims’ rights should be inviolable). For example in one of the videos you can see on youtube she finishes her speech with this quote from Mansoor Hekmat:

    http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/3140en.html

    “So it is natural that the debate on ‘true Islam’ vis-à-vis ‘practical Islam’ is broached over and over again. These justifications, however, are foolish from my point of view (that of a communist and atheist) and from the points of views of those of us who have seen or been the victims of Islam’s crimes. They are foolish for those of us who are living through a colossal social, political and intellectual struggle with this beast. The doctrinal and Koranic foundations of Islam, the development of Islam’s history, and the political identity and affiliation of Islam and Islamists in the battle between reaction and freedom in our era are too obvious to allow the debate on the various interpretations of Islam and the existence or likelihood of other interpretations to be taken seriously. […] In Islam, be it true or untrue, the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.”

    Moreover, while she stresses that all religion is bad, she points out that Islam is especially bad given that most of it is stuck in medieval thinking.

    Which means that according to the principles you have outlined she’s an Islamophobe. The label, which she would deny because she doesn’t accept the legitimacy of the term itself, saying it was thought up by Islamists.

    Reply
    1. Note she qualifies outside the context of your limited quote: she is well aware of Turkish Islam, for example, and the difference between secular, liberal, and conservative Islam as realized (and in political electoral struggle). She is not imagining that Islam is a disease infecting the world such that we have to ban mosques and spy on Muslim citizens, for example (much less beat them or kill them, as if “a bullet to the head” is “the only thing they understand”). Her most strident criticisms are explicitly directed at Islamism, not Islam as a whole. Just as with Nawaz. And throughout, she is always talking about intellectual engagement and refutation, not war or violence or immigration bans. She would not defend or apologize for any of the things I list as Islamophobia in this article. She consistently argues that accusing her of Islamophobia is simply not a factually accurate description of anything she has said.

      That’s the difference between criticizing Islam, and irrationally fearing it.

      Reply
  26. Hi Richard,

    Obviously anti-Muslim bigotry exists and is horrible. Anyone with half a brain would condemn bigotry against peaceful Muslims. As far as I understand it, no reasonable person is defending hate crimes against Muslims.

    But what some people are saying is that Islam – that is, the collection of ideas called “Islam,” not Muslims themselves and not members of any particular race – is currently, at this time in history, a uniquely dangerous collection of ideas.

    To be sure, Christian and Jewish scriptures contain horrifying passages that lunatics use to justify atrocities as well. But there are two huge differences between Christian/Jewish beliefs and Islamic beliefs. The first difference is the content of these beliefs: Islam contains specific dangerous beliefs about paradise, martyrdom, holy war, blasphemy, and apostasy that uniquely distinguish it from Christianity/Judaism and that motivate Jihadists to commit loosely organized, horrible global actions on a relatively large scale. Christianity and Judaism – as collections of texts and ideas – lack the belief that self-sacrifice in the name of the faith is the surest way to gain paradise; they lack the belief that blasphemy must be repaid with death; they lack the belief that apostates must be killed. And not only do they lack these beliefs, Christianity and Judaism currently are dominated by interpretive traditions that tend to mollify the very worst aspects of their holy texts.

    Again: I’m here only talking about the contents of these religions as collections of ideas…I’m saying that Islam – as a collection of ideas – contains specific ideas that, if taken seriously, are more dangerous than the specific ideas in Christianity and Judaism.

    The second difference is the extent to which these specific dangerous ideas *are* taken seriously by Muslims across the world. Now indeed, a huge number of Muslims are peaceful and would not *personally* carry out some of these beliefs, but polling data suggests that frighteningly high percentages of Muslims at least support these dangerous beliefs. To give you one example, a poll conducted in the UK found that a *quarter* of UK Muslims sympathized with the Charlie Hebdo attackers. I’m not trying to claim that a quarter of UK Muslims would *themselves* perpetrate similar violence (thankfully, they’re held in check by something else, whether by simple human decency, secular values, a lack of stomach, etc.). But the fact that so many UK Muslims *agree* with the idea that insulting the prophet is deserving of death is *terrifying*. Even if it were only 5 percent of UK Muslims, I would find that number shocking and worthy of real concern.

    For these reasons, I argue that Islam – as a collection of ideas – is currently more dangerous than Christianity and Judaism (as collections of ideas).

    A lot of people feel that part of combatting Jihadism is identifying and talking honestly about the connection between specific Islamic doctrines and specific bad actions. The reluctance of reasonable, liberal people to talk about the problems within Islam ultimately opens up room for insane right-wing demagogues like Donald Trump to dominate public discourse with entirely *unreasonable* responses to the problems within Islam. If the only people who talk openly about the problems within Islam are dangerous nuts like Trump, then the American public might one day eventually decide that only these dangerous nuts can keep us safe from Jihadists. That is truly a frightening thought. We need liberals to have honest, public dialogues about this issue, and we need to empower Muslim reformers to help *change* the way that frighteningly high numbers of Muslims interpret their religion.

    In light of all that I’ve been saying, a lot of people think that it’s dangerous to imply that all religions are basically the same, that all religions are equally dangerous right now in history. Religions aren’t the same. There are important differences between religions, and attempts to downplay these differences come off sounding naïve at best and deeply delusional and disingenuous at worst.

    Reply
    1. (1) The differences you claim, don’t exist. Follow the links I gave for all the conservative Christian movements actually sitting in our legislature, and all the conservative politicians and media moguls and darlings I likewise link to, and all the links on Christian terrorists (many of them suicidal and couched in talk of martyrdom and the god-sanctioned killing of infidels), and recent genocides, also linked (you can look up the Irish examples if after all that you still are confused). Most of your claimed distinctions dissolve. The rest will always dissolve when you remove civil controls from Christians being allowed to enact their will. See my comment above about how ISIS would just as easily be a Christian movement if we just switched which side of the world Christians were on geographically.

      Suicide attacks, for example, are always the last resort of the most disempowered: as long as a group has the means to wage continuous war, or is sufficiently content to live in their existing conditions, they become less interested in suicide attacks. Suicide attacks are not a product of religion. They are a product of religion + loss of all hope and other means of waging effective war. Hence, the word Kamikaze, does not refer to Muslims.

      Suicide attacks are extraordinarily rare in the Muslim community (add up the billions of Muslims, add up the number who have led suicide attacks, divide; be astonished at how few it is). Far more worrisome should be access to nuclear arsenals. Christian right wingers in America are far, far closer to that than any Muslim group or nation on earth (even Pakistan, which has long had nuclear weapons, doesn’t have that many, and has never used them, despite your certainty that Muslims are uniquely more dangerous than Christians or Isrealis).

      (2) The fact that the most desperate, impoverished, or disempowered peoples on earth are predominately Muslim and not Christian is an accident of history that has nothing to do with religion (or certainly no more to do with Islam than it does with Christianity). Just as Christianity began as ISIS in the Middle Ages and tempered, tempered not because someone made war on them until they tempered but tempered because of rational argument over long periods combined with rising economic success and declining income inequality & disenfranchisement of the common people, that’s also what extremist Islam needs to do. We’ve seen it start happening already in Turkey (and they still have to politically battle conservatives who are just like ours, except we are ahead of them in keeping them less powerful, although one wonders with the latest Presidential race). If Christians did it, Muslims can do it. So there is nothing “uniquely different” about Islam here. It’s just like Christianity. Just like Christianity, in regions of barbarism it becomes barbaric, in regions of liberalism it becomes liberal. This is especially observed when, for example, opinion polls distinguish Muslims by generation: recent immigrants, their children born in a liberal country, and their children’s children born in a liberal country. You see how rapidly “conservative” Islam diminishes, right in line with the baseline of Christian conservatism in the liberal country, with nearly identical views across the board.

      (3) I also disapprove of anyone trying to denounce criticism of Islam or Islamism. My article shows not a single example of that. So it’s a moot point here. That is not what Islamophobia really is. Real Islamophobia, is what my article extensively documents. And we had better not be pretending it doesn’t exist, simply because we need to also criticize a religion. You can do both: admit, and fight against, irrational panic and human rights violations against innocent Muslims, and criticize Islam as a religion (even wage war on isolated Islamic extremists). These are not incompatible. Do not allow anyone to sell you that myth. Because trying to make you believe they are incompatible, is a defense and enabling of human rights violations against innocent Muslims.

      If you cannot countenance that most Muslims by far are innocent of any of the crimes you attribute to Muslims as being somehow worse than Christians, then your beliefs are not in line with reality. And you need to adjust that.

      Reply
    2. I think the “degrees” argument adds up to some extent. Sure Christianity could act similarly to ISIS under similar circumstances, but those two ideologies have long been the world’s most violent. It’s like comparing land mines to hand grenades. Take them apart and you will clearly see the explosive elements within them. Both are deeply contradictory; both of them (as well as Judaism) create two classes of people: the clean and the unclean; both of them are perfectly suited to be used as a justification for oppression by the powerful, and as a false promise of eternal reward (Heaven) for submission to the will of the powerful by the oppressed, as well as the false promise of retribution upon their oppressors (Hell); both have a sizable number of followers who take a literal interpretation of their respective holy books; and both have been historically used as a vehicle for conquest. These are all problematic aspects that aren’t inherent to all religions, so it seems a bit specious to argue that, though it fairly evenly equates to Christianity, Islam isn’t among the worst ideologies in terms of providing individuals with a foundation for morality. I read that article you posted, and I agree. The soldiers are motivated by poverty and anger at US interventionism; but ISIS is still very much the product of Islam at the top of the organization. Their anger might be at the US, but their violent actions are targetting homosexuals, women, non-believers, apostates, Shiites, Kurds, and moderates; and those victims are determined entirely by the ideological perspective of the leaders of ISIS.

      Reply
      1. Actually, Imperial Japan was Buddhist, and yet basically comparable to the Nazis. And expansionist. Though not obsessed with conversion, just domination. But in light of that example we can’t really say Christianity and Islam have been the most violent. Just the most prevalent, which is an accident of history, not religion.

        We see this again in the Buddhist terrorism rising in Malaysia and Bangladesh. The Hindu terrorism rising in India. Marxism has an extremely horrific and bloody history, too.

        There are things particularly fucked and dangerous about the Religions of the Book. Judaism celebrated even in its scriptures being one of the most murderous and evil civilizations on earth; it has been tempered only by decimation and settling into terms with its minority status, adopting peace as a survival strategy (though now Israel as a nation seems intent on reviving its murderous past). Christianity then became the inheritor of that torch. Then Islam did. Their barbarous ideals then infected Hindu and Buddhist movements (which are emulating Judeo-Christian-Islamic models and ideals of violence).

        But it’s the whole system that is fucked and dangerous, the particular instantiations are roughly equal in that regard. Hence, as I noted, Christians want to kill gays, too. So, we know, did the Jews (since they invented the idea—the notion of killing gays arose nowhere else in history that I’m aware of). So we need to keep our eye on all of it.

        Reply
  27. Most of your claimed distinctions dissolve.

    No, the distinctions that *I* was talking about don’t dissolve.

    To be clear, I wasn’t arguing that no other religion contains violent maniacs inspired by different doctrines, nor was I suggesting that other religions, in other circumstances, couldn’t be just as dangerous as Islam is. I was arguing that those violent maniacs in Islam are inspired by *distinct* specific ideas about paradise, martyrdom, blasphemy, and apostasy that – I argue – are more dangerous overall (right now at this point in history) than the specific doctrines in other religions.

    Certainly, one could imagine circumstances in which Christianity could inspire behavior just as bad as that which we’re seeing in ISIS. In fact, on certain issues, Christianity is *right now* a more dangerous religion. For example, when it comes to stem cell research, Christianity (which generally advocates the belief that life begins at conception) dangerously motivates its adherents to stop valuable research. In contrast, Islam, whose Hadiths say that souls do not enter a fetus until a few months after conception, are not dangerous at all on this issue.

    Again, I’m talking about specific doctrines and specific effects. Islam uniquely has doctrines about martyrdom, paradise, blasphemy, and apostasy, doctrines that – right now, at this moment in history – are more dangerous overall than doctrines in other global religions.

    Magnifying these problematic doctrines is the extent to which religious communities endorse these dangerous beliefs. For example, there are obviously lunatic Christians who commit terrorist acts, like shooting abortion doctors. That’s clearly an ill-effect driven by the specific doctrine believed by that person (although “kill abortion doctors” is hardly a position that can be derived from a straightforward reading of Christian scripture…there are a number of interpretive twists that need to be made to get there). But what percentage of the Christian community in this country supports that action? Let’s compare that ill effect to an ill effect like a lunatic Muslim killing an apostate from Islam (an ill effect that can indeed be derived from a straightforward reading of Islamic holy text). What percentage of Muslims around the world agree with the idea that apostates ought to be killed? (And again, I’m talking about people who say that they support it – I’m not claiming that all or even most of them would have the stomach to actually do it themselves) There are polls of Muslims around the world that suggest frighteningly high percentages are in favor of killing apostates (Egypt was the big winner with well over half of its Muslim population agreeing with that idea).

    I agree that there can be Christian terrorists and that Christian lunatics are something to worry about, but the specific doctrines of Islam – right now, at this time in history – are overall more dangerous, producing specific results endorsed by troublingly high numbers of the Islamic community.

    Suicide attacks are not a product of religion. They are a product of religion + loss of all hope and other means of waging effective war.

    I fully acknowledge that political realities play a role in the issues that we’re discussing, but you again have to look at the specifics: there are Christian Palestinians, but virtually no Christian suicide bombers. Why is that? The reason is that part of the motivation of suicide bombers are the specific ideas about martyrdom and paradise that are uniquely enshrined in Islam. Christianity lacks those beliefs entirely.

    You correctly bring up Kamikazes, who were motivated in part by a particular interpretation of Zen Buddhism. That particular interpretation of Zen Buddhism is basically non-existent today, and it is not at all supported by troublingly high numbers of the Zen community. If it were existent today and supported by troublingly high numbers of the Zen community, I might very well be talking about how Zen is uniquely dangerous right now.

    Once again, I’m not arguing that no other religions can ever motivate anyone into taking horrible actions – far from it. I’m saying that right now, Islam is the one religion with doctrines *unique* to it that are overall more dangerous.

    Just as Christianity began as ISIS in the Middle Ages and tempered, tempered not because someone made war on them until they tempered but tempered because of rational argument over long periods combined with rising economic success and declining income inequality & disenfranchisement of the common people, that’s also what extremist Islam needs to do.

    I agree with this. Islam needs to go through an enlightenment, and we need to empower reformers in the Islamic world to promote secularism and “softer” readings of Islamic texts.

    We don’t empower them at all when we avoid honest and frank conversations about the specific doctrines of Islam and how they are connected to specific bad actions.

    I’m not saying that you’re avoiding this conversation (see below), but the ferocity with which you resist the plain fact that Islam *is* distinct in a number of its points gives the impression that you are opposed to productive conversations about a huge piece of a global problem right now at this time in history.

    I also disapprove of anyone trying to denounce criticism of Islam or Islamism. My article shows not a single example of that.

    Again, I agree. I wasn’t accusing you of denouncing criticism of Islam (you’re clearly not doing that), but I was trying to explain why people react the way they do when they get the sense that others are trying disingenuously to equate all religions or suggest that all religions, right now at this time in history, are equally dangerous. I think that there have been people – again, not you in this article – who have equated any criticism of Islam with “Islamophobia,” which causes others to have a kneejerk reaction to the word (rather than responding to the substance of the argument).

    I can’t respond to every single point your raised, but I’d be glad to discuss with you any points that you’d like to address. If you think that I missed something vital, please feel free to direct my attention to it, and I’d be glad to respond.

    Reply
    1. I think you mistake religion with other concurrent causes here. I’ll pick one recurring point to illustrate this. But the same follows for every single point you are making.

      Suicidality in Islam is actually extremely rare. It gets exaggerated in the media because it is sensational. But do the math, and you’ll see the probability of a Muslim engaging in a suicide attack is extraordinarily small (almost vanishingly small). And what causes it is hopelessness. Reverse the social positions of Islam and Christianity, and you’d be writing the above comment about how Christianity is “uniquely worse” because of its ideas of suicidal martyrdom etc. That’s simply not true. It is identical. It’s just sitting in different social contexts and thus being activated differently.

      Nearly every instance of Christian and right-wing terrorism in the U.S. has been a suicide mission. Look at the common factors: a belief in hopelessness (for their extreme views that no longer fit in society or have any influence there, and they have no power to effect change, and see no future for themselves). That’s identical in both Islamic and Christian cases of suicide attacks (which is why it Muslims have to hunt to find these people: they scour their cities for the most desperately impoverished or hopeless or angry people and convince them to do it…notably, no Muslim leaders ever do it themselves, and they have to look long and hard to find any who will). Both religions provide the belief system that supports such thinking. Both praise and revere martyrs. Etc. Both, also, only do so in extremist ranks. Most Muslims are not endorsers of suicide attacks (least of all on civilians). Just like most Christians.

      It is dangerous to ignore the conjunction of causes in all this. Because if we obsess over religion, we will ignore the contributing causes, which we might actually have more control over. It is easier to change our foreign and economic policies than to de-convert the Muslim world (least of all with rhetoric like that of Sam Harris, who just scares or insults them from their perspective, and thus isn’t doing much to actually persuade them effectively).

      Religion is a factor. It’s always worth targeting (though until you’ve marginalized it, you need to do it in ways they’ll actually listen to). But religion alone doesn’t cause any of the things that concern you. It only has these worst effects when conjoined with other causes that create the desperation necessary to radicalize someone to the extremist version of their religion (and even then, only an extremely rare few of them will suicide themselves, for instance). The causal factors are identical in both Christians and Muslims. The quantity difference is entirely a product of the divergent distribution of those causes (far more Muslims are in situations of the requisite desperation than Christians are).

      If you don’t understand this, then you, unfortunately analogously to Trump, don’t understand “what’s going on.”

      Reply
  28. I think the kind of fear your article is documenting was not all that clear in the article. Islamophobia is fear of Islam. What your article seems to be documenting is not Islamophobia but abject terror of, and hatred for, Muslims (not Islam). I think it’s an important distinction.

    Reply
    1. The article repeatedly points out the distinction between fear of “Muslims” and fear of Islam as an infection spreading and threatening the world. Re-read the article with that in mind, and you’ll see all the evidence that it is Islam people fear (sharia, Islamic schools, the creating of “radicals”). Muslims they perceive as just the carriers (and spreaders) of “the disease.” But it’s the “Ebola” itself that they primarily fear.

      Reply
  29. stevenjohnson2 December 13, 2015, 6:21 am

    “Many Islamophobes do have problems with US cozying with SA et al., or see that as realpolitik (they still fear and loathe Saudis et al. but see the need of keeping control of them on the chess board). I don’t know if all Christian Zionists share what is though a prevalent Islamophobia in that movement. And there are too many different ex-Muslims with too many different objectives in writing to make such a blanket statement about them. ”

    Realpolitik justifications for the unshakable alliance with Saudi et al. do not I think count as having a problem with US support. They strike me as excuses. But if they are genuine, doesn’t the notion that the Saudi et al. are tolerable because their reactionary governments are under control count as malice towards the Muslim people in those countries? I know of no critics of Islam who advocate the US government take up merely correct diplomatic relations with these regimes, much less call for regime change, as they do for so many other states.

    As for Christian Zionists, the belief that God gave Palestine to the Israelis and is recalling the Jews to the Holy Land in preparation for the return of Jesus in practice implies the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, and the mass repression of and official discrimination against those who somehow remain. How is it unreasonable to deem this Islamophobic?

    No doubt it is difficult for secular ex-Muslims to reach out to their peers in many countries. It is depressing to realize that the internet doesn’t serve as a platform that can escape legal repression. But I was thinking of those who wrote in Western countries for non-Muslims

    Reply
    1. Realpolitik justifications for the unshakable alliance with Saudi et al. do not I think count as having a problem with US support. They strike me as excuses.

      I agree they are rationalizations of dubious merit. But the point is that the Islamophobes who support “manipulatiog” the Saudis like that are not somehow being hypocritical. They would nuke the Saudis in the heartbeat if they could. They despise and fear them every bit as much as any other Muslim nation. More so even than many (Islamophobes often don’t know much about Turkey).

      The reason they don’t call for “regime change” is that they don’t know how to do that, because the Saudi regime is not destabilized. Would they support a viable plan? Hell yeah. Even if it required murdering millions of civilians.

      How is it unreasonable to deem this Islamophobic?

      I wasn’t questioning the generalization (as I noted, it is generally true), but rather just stating my ignorance of whether there is any diversity within that movement as to the place Muslims play in that system. Because I don’t like making blanket assertions about groups I haven’t studied. In my experience, when I actually study a movement, I always find it more complex than people told me.

      Reply
  30. I appreciate all that you’ve brought to light in this blog. I saw your posting and some of the comments. I was speechless. I work with a very conservative religious person (LDS), and he often goes on about muslim being murders etc. A violent barbaric group, he says. And I am left wondering how he and many others seem to forget to violent nature of their religious origins.

    As you pointed out, “You do realize most of the US deaths in those incidents were not by Islamic but by Christian and right wing terrorists, right? Or did you just Islamophobically assume terrorism meant Muslim?”

    No. No they don’t realize.

    Reply
  31. Enemy of religion December 13, 2015, 7:27 pm

    Interesting article but here are my thoughts on it. For the record I identify as a progressive but more importantly I am an atheist and anti-theist so I am against all religions and other supernatural beliefs and consider anyone who holds such beliefs to be delusional to some degree.

    Stop equating being against islam with racism. Islam is a religion not an ethnicity and a muslim by definition is an adherent to islam. A person cannot change their ethnicity or other innate aspects but a person can change (or reject) religious beliefs. Making this false equivalency belittles the struggles of those who have been discriminated against due to innate aspects (race or ethnicity, geographic origin, gender or orientation).

    No religious person should be fully trusted because they hold primitive irrational anti-science beliefs and adhere to dogma to some degree. Of course fundamentalists of any religion should not be trusted at all since the believe in a strict literal interpretation of their primitive magic book and are willing to commit acts of violence in the name of their non-existent deity.

    The religion of islam appears worse than christianity to many Americans largely because of 9/11 which was clearly an insane act of fundamentalist islamic terrorism. Keep in mind that the terrorists were following their magic book to the letter (i.e. fight the infidels wherever they are and strike off their heads). While it is absolutely certain that the terrorists represent a small percentage of muslims, one has to wonder why anyone would follow such a vile doctrine which advocates such violence and other awful things like the mistreatment of women. By the same token one has to wonder why anyone would follow christianity since its magic book also advocates violence and is filled with similar awful things.

    The main difference between islam and christianity in extremism is that many islamic countries have sharia law and thus have no filter against out-of-control extremism while the U.S. has secular laws which acts as a restraint against our own fundamentalist who would be just as crazy if not crazier (just look at the lunatic who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic).

    Why is there such an eagerness to defend islam from some quarters ? The bottom line is that islam is a primitive backwards desert religion and deserves no defense or no respect whatsoever. The same is true of christianity and judaism, both which share a common origin with islam as abrahamic religions. No religion or supernatural belief system deserves respect, consideration or any defense. This is the early 21st century and we live in a modern technological society based upon science and reason, it is long passed time for humanity to move beyond this primitive regressive nonsense. Keep in mind that moderates of any religion are still delusional and only provide a buffer which allow the fundamentalists to flourish.

    Down with religion … ALL OF THEM.

    Reply
    1. I am against all religions and other supernatural beliefs and consider anyone who holds such beliefs to be delusional to some degree.

      So am I, and so do I.

      But that doesn’t mean they lack human rights or can be treated with unjust bigotry and violence.

      Stop equating being against islam with racism.

      It is only entangled with racism (hence I rarely equate them, except in respects where racism actually appears). As when certain people want racial profiling of Muslims: that entails the belief that Muslims are “a race” that can be visually identified by their “race.” That’s racist. Likewise calling Muslims “ragheads” is racist, not just Islamophobic. That Islamophobes often don’t know Muslims are not all Arabs is another manifestation of racism, not just Islamophobia. And so on.

      Otherwise, throughout my article I am careful to distinguish when the bigotry is triggered by racism or fear of an infectious “ideology” they believe turns everyone it infects into conniving bloodthirsty murderers and their accomplices.

      No religious person should be fully trusted because they hold primitive irrational anti-science beliefs and adhere to dogma to some degree.

      I disagree. I know too many liberals of both Christian and Muslim (and Jewish) persuasion to know they can be trusted. I even trust some conservatives, whom I know have genuine values of respect and honesty and compassion. I am wary of most conservatives, since I know many of them are just bombs of evil just waiting for the right social circumstances to trigger them (or they are even actively warring against human rights already), but only wary, and only most, and only conservatives. It is the right wing personality I fear above all—whether it is attached to religion, atheist misogyny, or even (ironically) Marxism—they all will kill us in the right circumstances, and they will all lie for their cause. That’s a product of a corrupt personality type, not of religion per se (since some of them are atheists). Religion adds certain other risks (it makes it easier for a rightwinger to go totalitarian and justify the evils they actually want to inflict), but I find even atheist ideologies can do that (certain virulent forms of organized misogyny or Marxism, for example).

      Of course fundamentalists of any religion should not be trusted at all since the believe in a strict literal interpretation of their primitive magic book and are willing to commit acts of violence in the name of their non-existent deity.

      That is not always true. I know some fundamentalists who are in fact pacifists, for example.

      Though it is true that predominately fundamentalism is adopted by cryptoviolent fascists. I think the process is more in that direction than the other: cryptoviolent fascists are attracted to fundamentalism more often than fundamentalism creates them. Though I think it does do so,I also think more fundamentalism is a product of people who are already cryptoviolent fascists latching on to fundamentalism as a useful support system for their righteous mind; people who aren’t that way, tend to escape fundamentalism, or only give lip service to it if they can’t openly leave.

      This is why fundamentalism is always a minority and tends to become marginalized in any society. Which is why fundamentalism only ever controls a society by force. If it wasn’t for their fascist death squads, Iran’s government would not be fundamentalist. They’d have been voted out by their majority non-fundamentalist population long ago.

      Keep in mind that the terrorists were following their magic book to the letter (i.e. fight the infidels wherever they are and strike off their heads).

      So do we. We have killed fifty times as many of their civilians as they have of ours. Based on the exact same “fuck them” revenge mentality. We aren’t exactly their moral superiors on this one score.

      While it is absolutely certain that the terrorists represent a small percentage of muslims, one has to wonder why anyone would follow such a vile doctrine which advocates such violence and other awful things like the mistreatment of women.

      Ditto the Christian extremists I extensively document who do so. Even openly in American society.

      Notably, even the godless ex-commies in Russia are outlawing gays and sidelining women. Which also begs explanation. Since they don’t really have a religious motive to be doing that.

      The main difference between islam and christianity in extremism is that many islamic countries have sharia law…

      And as I document, hundreds of thousands of Christians in the U.S. also want their own sharia law instituted here.

      So the difference is less in their religion, and more in their access to the means to enforce their will.

      And yet, most people aren’t actually so into that. Muslim or Christian. And even the variances in support, correlate with access to education and information. Thus, the variable that controls the quantity of extremism, is not the presence of religion, but access to education and information.

      Why is there such an eagerness to defend islam from some quarters?

      It’s the same respect politics on the right and the left: Jews excessively fear any criticism of Israel signals anti-Semitism; Christians excessively fear any criticism of Christianity signals “persecution” (literally: that’s the conservative narrative in this country); and likewise activists against racism and bigotry against minorities (which is always on the left; the Christian right doesn’t give a fuck about minorities) excessively fear that any criticism of Islam baits or causes what I call real Islamophobia.

      The excessive fear is identical in all three cases: it is excessive, it is a misplaced fear, and it is used inappropriately to shut down criticism (of Israel, of Christians, of Islam).

      To diminish that fear, one needs to continue calmly explaining that criticism is not hate speech and can be delivered in a measured way that won’t inflame or give cover to actual hate speech and hate crimes (though one does need to be cognizant of the need to deliver it in such a fashion: some inflammatory forms of criticism can be irresponsible in a hair trigger climate of violence and discrimination).

      Keep in mind that moderates of any religion are still delusional and only provide a buffer which allow the fundamentalists to flourish.

      And yet the only path to diminishing fundamentalist numbers is the liberalization pathway: you have to increase the number of liberal religionists. There is no magical one-step pathway to atheism. The history of the West proves this. And we need to heed the lessons of history.

      Reply
  32. Hello Richard
    Your comment

    “You also don’t seem to grasp that Hadith is not scripture for most Muslims. It’s commentary and advice. Just like the Talmud. (In fact they are nearly identical in structure and function: the Hadith collects oral sayings from Mohammed, not the angel Gabriel as the Quran does, so they are not revelations but his opinions, and the opinions of later scholars on that; the Talmud collects oral sayings from Moses, known as the Mishnah, and the opinions of later scholars on that).”

    seems not quite correct Richard – if by “scripture” you mean “revelation from God” – well it is.

    True: the hadeth is commentary and advice- but from Allah.
    The Quran also contains commentary and advice as well. So having such things isn’t a bar to revelation.

    Your analogy seems wonky: ‘collecting oral sayings from Muhammad’ all is ‘oral sayings from Muhammad both Quran and Hadeth. In point of fact the Quran never says it’s the word of Gabriel.

    The Quran represents the literal recited word of Allah via Gabriel [mostly – though not all eg the ending of Surah 2 – these verses were ‘reveald’ directly to Muhammad without the Gabriel intermediary]

    Both quran and hadeth are ‘collected’ from Muhammad.

    The Hadeth still represents revelation that is unrecited – [wahyun ghayr matlu’] Sunne Muslim orthodoxy still consider these hadeth to have indirect revelatory status.

    EG Muhammad states is mass-narrated hadeth ” I have been ordered [by Allah] to fight non-muslims until they say ‘no god but Allah’ – if they doe so then their blud n property becomes inviolabl.’
    Or that tattooing/eating ass flesh is haram etc.
    Sunne imams like Shafi’e; Abu Hanefah; Malik; bin Hanbal determind sunneism by alleging the hadeth is revelation.

    Of course sunnes she’es ibades hav their own canuns.
    Modernist muslims tend tu reject the hadeth as per the groups u mentiond.

    Reply
    1. The Hadith is not the words of Allah. It’s the words of Mohammed, without revelation, and later interpreters of it (human men). Even the Quran is not the direct words of Allah. It’s the words of Gabriel (that’s the most widespread Muslim belief; because Allah doesn’t usually deign to speak directly to people; he speaks through angelic intermediaries; this is also, BTW, the same in Christian and Jewish tradition, e.g. Moses only ever really spoke to the Metatron; the parallel is identical in Islam). There are some versions of Hadith in which some few sayings are regarded as the words of Allah (probably again spoken by angels as Allah’s instrument), but those are not universally accepted, and are few. The same is true of the Talmud, which also contains some supposedly unique words of Yahweh or his angels. That doesn’t make it scripture. Or different from Hadith. They are basically the same kind of thing.

      Reply
  33. Chuck Messenger December 14, 2015, 5:59 pm

    Richard: I think you make excellent points. Our country is becoming unhinged – the “Christianist” third of the country in particular. At the present time, if one is to be rational, then any worries about Islam should pale in comparison to fears of Trump and Trumpism (not to mention the rest of the Trumps-in-waiting). What have we come to when the Republican front-runner has taken on the mantle of a modern-day Hitler (here, I’m comparing Trump to Hitler in 1932-1933, which I think is an apt comparison), and continues to surge in the polls as a result?

    BTW: I believe ___ _____ should not be dragged into the discussion. I expect he is as revolted as any other progressive by the recent ugly developments.

    Reply
    1. I’m not sure what you mean. Most New Atheist panic over Islam is naivety and arrogance, not comparable to Trump-style fascism (I think in reality, they would never support him, or Carson or Cruz, despite their unconsidered, bombastic and illogical rhetoric). And Trump-style fascism really does only attract a sixth of the American electorate. Which is alarming. But not in a “he might actually win” kind of way. We don’t have the socio-economic conditions yet in the West to elect another Hitler. So, yes, be concerned. But also be discerning. And realistic.

      Reply
  34. Enemy of religion December 14, 2015, 8:25 pm

    Everyone should have equal human rights unless they do something awful (e.g. murder, rape) for which they deserve to lose them. That does not mean that religious people shouldn’t be mocked at every turn and called out as delusional since they are unless they can provide empirical, demonstrable, testable evidence of their ludicrous supernatural anti-science claims (lets be honest, they can’t since this primitive nonsense isn’t real). It is my experience that ALL religious people including moderates get very upset when they find out you are an atheist. No amount of pointing out the virtually endless logical fallacies of their nonsense beliefs or asking them to provide evidence of their foolish supernatural claims will dissuade them, they simply retreat further into their stupidity. Frankly anyone who rejects science is definitely NOT rational and NOT to be trusted. Personally I would have a religious test for office: anyone would believes in a bunch of religious nonsense would not be allowed to hold office because they aren’t completely rational. Maybe some people would say that makes me a bad person or at least unfair but so be it. You can’t deny that this would be a better country without religious kooks having a say in government.

    More often than not people who call others “islamophobes” also call them racists (Ben Affleck comes to mind) which is a false equivalency and intellectually dishonest and usually appears to serve as a weak attempt to buttress their claims. Being an anti-theist sure as heck isn’t remotely the same as being a racist. Now people who want to “profile” muslims based upon appearance are obviously racist and stupid since not all people of Middle Eastern descent are muslims and not all muslims are of Middle Eastern descent but of course most of the assholes who want to do this are conservative (or outright fascist like Trump) and not too bright to begin with.

    You will get no defense from christianity from me. I consider it just as backwards and bad as islam. Other religions like judaism and hinduism are also crazy backwards religions, the main difference is they have little influence outside of their home countries whereas crazy christianity’s major seat is here in the overwhelming powerful U.S. while much of the Middle East is dominated by insane islam. I agree that the conservative fundamentalism nutjobs who want to institute dominionism or whatever they’re calling their insane equivalent of christian sharia law scare the heck out of me. I also agree that conservatives shouldn’t be trusted either, like religion this is a regressive nutjob ideology and at odds with modern society.

    I think the way to diminish religion is by education: teach people to think critically and analytically from an early age and religion will naturally be rejected. Also group-think needs to be discouraged and people need to be taught to be themselves. Of course this requires some societal changes like reducing the very toxic influence of conservatism which is one of the core problems with society.

    Reply
  35. Enemy of religion December 14, 2015, 10:25 pm

    Richard, one thing you mention that strikes me as completely incorrect is the suggestion that islamic suicide is the result of hopelessness. That is untrue. Consider the 9/11 terrorists – they were living an average life in the U.S. and if it weren’t for their insane fundamentalist beliefs could have continued to do so. They were driven to their vile extremist actions by their lunatic belief that killing large numbers of their “enemies” (innocent civilians) and themselves in the process they would get rewarded a garden filled with 72 virgin nouri (basically supernatural fembots). The same holds true for other islamic suicide bombers, they believe they will get an afterlife reward from their make-believe sky daddy for their sick actions though I’m not sure what the female suicide bombers believe they will get (become one of the fembots perhaps ?)

    Generally only religion drives people to such insane fanatical extremes. Without religion, specifically islam the Twin Towers and the rest of the original World Trade Center would still be standing.

    Reply
    1. You need to read this article then. People identify with the hopelessness of their own in-group, and are hopeless themselves because they have no power to act (they can’t vote, and even if they could, their votes would fall on deaf ears). Thus, suicide is their last way of asserting any ability to influence the world that has turned against everything they want the world to be. Thus, Christian suicide attackers, and MRA suicide attackers, are also not “destitute,” but objectively quite well off. But that’s not how they see themselves. They see themselves as powerless and abandoned by a world they no longer understand, and can no longer control or influence in any way (but through violence, they come to believe).

      This is also why so many people were willing to die for atheist ideologies like Marxism and Anarchism (especially in the early twentieth century). It’s not just about going to heaven. People in a desperate way who feel the world no longer listens or responds to them and is destroying everything they believe is good and true, combined with a certain violence-based notion of vengeance, will always rationalize their suicidal violence. Heaven is not needed. An ideology is needed, perhaps. But those can always be invented to the purpose. As we see with the MRA suicide attacks recently, including at least two mass shootings in the US and one in Canada, all suicides, not at all connected to any clear ideology of an afterlife—some have been only vaguely, with no clearly worked out ideology of justification, just like Columbine: they sort of vaguely thought maybe they’d go to heaven, but not based on any ideological reasoning of any discernible kind, and that wasn’t what led them to suicide themselves in an act of mass murder.

      You can’t understand Islamic suicide attacks outside the context of suicidal mass murder as a general phenomenon. Because Islamic suicidality is not proportionally all that different in numbers. How many MRAs go Elliot Roger? No more nor less by proportion than Muslims strap on bombs.

      So don’t get distracted by religion. If you do that, you will be blind to the seven times greater numbers of deaths caused by non-Muslim terrorism in the US.

      Reply
  36. Enemy of religion December 15, 2015, 9:33 am

    After some thought I have concluded that the term “islamophobia” needs to stop being used.

    First this term is used by people who want to prevent any criticism of islam and they often will resort to calling people racist in order to buttress their weak position.

    Second and more importantly, why shouldn’t people be afraid of islam ? By definition “islamophobia” means fear of islam which is a religion. Anyone can stupidly believe in a religion or ideology and follow its doctrine, it isn’t restricted to people of a given ethnicity or geographical region (only asinine conservatives believe that). The religion of islam is filled with viciousness and insanity and encourages suicide killings and incredible mistreatment of women. I would question anyone who would follow such an insane doctrine just like I would question anyone who would follow any other stupid religious doctrine (e.g. christianity, judaism, hinduism, buddhism, scientology, wicca, etc). All religions should be feared or at the very least distrusted and met with a great deal of criticism.

    Why aren’t there terms like “fasciophobia” or “conservativephobia” ? Those are most definitely regressive nutjob ideologies which should unquestionably be feared. Instead of using the foolish term “islamophobia” why not call out conservatives for their regressive tribal ideology and call out all religions are primitive backward-assed anti-science nonsense.

    Reply
    1. You did not even read the article you are commenting on. And I know that because your claim “this term is used by people who want to prevent any criticism of islam” is refuted by the entire article. Yet you don’t even know about much less rebut any of its vast swath of evidence and arguments.

      Likewise your nonsense about people “should be afraid of Islam,” which not only contradicts your first statement (if you are advocating fear “of Islam,” you are by the very dictionary definition defending Islamophobia!), but also ignores the entire article you are commenting on, which also refutes everything you say again.

      When the article you comment against already decisively refutes your comment, you really suck at argument.

      It’s all the worse that comments above have refuted you again and again. So obviously you didn’t read them, either.

      Reply
  37. Update: I have added some links to the article that further support the one I already did include, on why Islam itself isn’t really the cause of suicide attackers. The three links (the first being the one I already included) are:

    ”What I Discovered From Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters” (“They’re drawn to the movement for reasons that have little to do with belief in extremist Islam.”)

    We Spoke to a Former Jihadist About How Young People Become Radicalized

    MIND Reviews: The Myth of Martyrdom

    Reply
  38. For all who think we should get rid of the word Islamophobia, here is a series of statements from my Twitter feed illustrating why that is illogical:

    The argument is that some people abuse the word “Islamophobia” to attack just any critic of Islam. That is indeed an abuse of the word. Just as Christians are abusing the word “persecution” to describe laws requiring Christians to respect civil rights. Changing the word won’t change this abuse.

    They’ll just misuse any word you replace it with. If you want Islamophobia to be replaced with Muslimophobia, they’ll call critics of Islam Muslimophobes. No win. If you want Islamophobia to be replaced with xenophobia, they’ll call critics of Islam xenophobes. No win. You never win this way. So this is naive and foolish.

    Meanwhile, there are real phenomena we have to call out and name: like all the actual fearmongering and human and civil rights abuses & bigotry my article documents.

    The problem is not the word. They’ll misuse any word you pick. The problem is the misuse of the word. Whatever word it is.

    So we need to attack the misuse. Not the word. Because changing the word, won’t change the misuse of it.

    Just like those who call criticizing Israeli politics Antisemitism. Solution is not to to ban the word Antisemitism. Because real Antisemitism exists.

    Solution is to explain that criticizing Israeli politics is not Antisemitism. And then call actual Antisemitism, Antisemitism.

    But redefining the phenomenon (i.e. renaming it) won’t solve this problem. Philosophy runs into this everywhere: abusers just abuse the new word.

    That’s why we can never solve a word abuse by changing the word. The abuse will just continue with the new word.

    So the word isn’t the problem. The abuse is the problem. So the solution is to attack the abuse, not the word.

    Just like I said about abusing “Antisemitism.” Also just like Christians abusing the word “persecution.”

    Even if you call real Islamophobia “Verataniktu,” abusers will accuse critics of Islam of Verataniktu. Back where we started.

    So stop with this naive and foolish notion of changing the word. That is useless. And really shitty philosophy. If you dislike the abuse of a word, attack the abuse of the word. Attack the actual thing that is the problem.

    Reply
  39. Hi Richard,

    I don’t think we’re actually as far apart as it might seem — I *agree* with you that under other circumstances Christianity could be just as dangerous as Islam is right now. But we’re not in those other circumstances: in the world that we currently live in, at this time in history, the distinct doctrines of Islam are overall more dangerous. Again, I’m talking about beliefs — not people — and the ways that specific doctrines yield specific bad consequences.

    I further disagree that most acts of Christian terrorism are “suicidal” in the same way that suicide bombings are. There’s a difference between reckless disregard for one’s own life and deliberately taking one’s own life as a means to kill others (in the latter case, it is to *want* to die [and thus gain paradise] more than anything else). Again, here Islam is unique in that the doctrine of martyrdom securing paradise is *central* to its tenets and *explicitly* spelled out in its core texts. This is not so for the core texts of Christianity. There’s a *reason* that Christian Palestinians aren’t the ones blowing themselves up to kill others, while Muslim Palestinians are. [And yes, obviously suicide bombers are only a super tiny fraction of Muslims, but that doesn’t change the fact that their actions are motivated by a doctrine that frighteningly high numbers of people say they agree with]

    You’re clearly coming at this issue out of concern about bigotry against Muslims as individual people, and that’s a quite valid concern to have. But I don’t think that talking honestly about the differences between Islam and other religions — as collections of ideas — emboldens bigots. Obviously, you didn’t say in your post that you’re against talking about these differences (though you’re doing your damndest in our conversation to deny or downplay these differences). But articles like yours often seem to be implying that it’s bad form — or even dangerous or encouraging of bigotry — to talk about real and serious differences between religions. Again, the vehemence with which you deny that Islam is (right now, at this time in history) more dangerous than other beliefs suggests that you fear such a discussion of difference would indeed prompt more bigotry.

    But I remain convinced that most people who are bigoted against Muslims would be that way with or without people talking honestly about the differences between Islam and other religions. [In contrast, without religion, the vast majority of Islamists and jihadists would have no reason to act in the ways that they do]

    Again, it’s a good thing to write a post pointing out the serious problem of bigotry against Muslims, but to deny vehemently in the comments the real differences between religions suddenly casts your writing in a different light. It makes some readers think — wrongly, I trust — that your agenda is to obscure real differences and to shame and shout down any and all voices trying to point out these differences. Such voices would include, of course, moderate Muslims desperate to reform their faith: the first step toward this reform is to acknowledge the distinct problems that Islam faces in terms of reform. To do otherwise is to ignore the plight of millions of people in the Islamic world — including all women and gay people unlucky enough to be born in a great many Muslim countries — who are suffering under the yoke of Islamic doctrines.

    Reply
  40. Enemy of religion December 15, 2015, 7:26 pm

    Richard, the problem with people like you is that you seem to want to defend islam to a degree and say that it is okay for people to believe in this primitive nonsense as long as they are not violent extremists. This is wrong, holding primitive beliefs is most definitely a problem as these stupid beliefs are incompatible with the modern world. Also people like you are very quick to cry “islamophobia” yet there are no similar terms for other religions (i.e. christianophobia, judaophobia, hinduphobia). Would you say that someone who fears a presidency of Ben Carson or Ted Cruz (both fundamentalist anti-science lunatics who would gladly turn the country into a theocracy) a “christianophobe” ? Heck I’m against all of these christian nutjobs: Mike Huckabee who held a hate rally with an anti-gay bigot, Rick Santorum who is a dominionist douchebag, televangelist like that Hagee lunatic, and all of the various anti-science assholes who deny evolution, the geological age of the Earth, climate change and other aspects of science that don’t agree with their primitive magic book. I’m against them and I fear any of them gaining power so I must be a “christianophobe” right ?? Now I get why “islamophobe” is a thing; some incredibly vile acts have been committed in the name of islam in recent times beyond anything committed in the name of any other religion. Considering this why keep trying to defend a seriously flawed and regressive doctrine ? Instead why not say that islam *is* bad along with every other stupid religion and call out right-wingers who want to racially profile people in the assumption that they hold certain beliefs but not use a fallacious term.

    Reply
  41. Enemy of religion December 15, 2015, 9:12 pm

    I read the articles you linked and while there are multiple reasons why someone would commit these horrendous acts of terror, you and others like you seem to want to deny that islam is definitely one of the driving forces of such acts. What do you think the IS in ISIS or ISIL stands for ?

    My problems with the term is as follows:
    – “islamophobia” (fear of the doctrine of islam) is generally used to mean “muslimophobia” (fear of the adherents of the doctrine of islam)
    The doctrine of islam should be feared as it is a regressive doctrine which is incompatible with the modern world and can lead to very bad results but all muslims should not be feared as only a small percentage of fundamentalists are willing to resort to extremists actions. I would say the same is true of *all* religions yet no one uses a similar term for any other religion.
    – “islamophobia” is often called whenever there is any criticism of islam. As you said this is true of other major religions (i.e. christians will quickly cry they’re being persecuted) but there is no defense calling “christianophobia”. All religions need to be criticized and called out for the primitive nonsense that they are and there should not be misguided calls to stop this.
    – “islamophobia” often comes across as a knee-jerk reaction to the right-wing. The right-wing is racist, sexist and anti-gay, by all means call them out on their bigotry but don’t make a call that people fear islam and not also say they should fear christianity which is something most right-wingers here believe.
    – as an anti-theist, I fear *all* religions as I see them and other supernatural beliefs as anti-science and detrimental to humanity, particularly when fundamentalist nutjobs gain power. So by default that would make most if not all anti-theists “islamophobes” by default – is that really your intention as a freethinker to attack anti-theists ? Even if you’re only agnostic or atheist certainly you should see why someone would also be anti-theist.

    Re violence here in the U.S.: that might have something to do with the insane proliferation of guns and the right-wing obsession with their willful misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment, just a thought.

    Reply
  42. Enemy of religion December 16, 2015, 2:34 pm

    No Richard, you simply don’t want to hear any counter arguments because you and people like you are bent on this “islamophobia” thing. In fact this is similar to conservative reactions to things they disagree with.

    Reply
  43. Update: Superb article confirming the point I have made many times in comments here and in my article: there is no difference between a terrorist and a suicidal mass shooter; the common factor motivating them is not religion (any ideology whatever will do, even godless ones, even vague ones); it’s their perceived humiliation and unchecked rage. See:

    We Asked A Mass Shooter Why The Hell This Keeps Happening

    This is a must-read. It is the best concise case for the point yet.

    I have added it to my string of links on this in my article.

    Reply

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