An ex-Muslim exposes the “Islamophobia” canard

It’s deeply misguided to criticize the New Atheists for attacking Islam and branding it as an especially pernicious faith. It’s even more misguided to label them as racist “Islamophobes”. Such critics are in fact erecting a double standard for human rights, as Islam is clearly more oppressive than other major faiths, and more eager to impose its religious “truths” on others. It is the faith whose members can embrace burqas, honor killings, fatwas, and acid attacks on schoolgirls. It is the unique faith that threatens to exterminate people who name teddy bears after their prophet. (I’ll be discussing the new Pew Report on Muslim beliefs later this week).

Two nice palliatives to the “Islamophobia” canard have been published in the last week. Ali A. Rivzi’s piece in PuffHo, An atheist Muslim’s perspective on the ‘root causes’ of Islamist jihadism and the politics of Islamophobia, is particularly telling because Rivzi is an ex-Muslim, as well as a Pakistani-Canadian writer and physician living in Toronto.

Rivzi begins by recounting Thomas Jefferson’s meeting in 1786 with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, Libya’s ambassador to London. Jefferson noted:

The ambassador answered us that [their right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

This thread of jihadist thought continues to this day. Yet while those words were once imputed to religious belief, now many liberals are desperately ascribe them to causes not in existence in 1786. Rivzi continues:

So where did Abdul Rahman Adja’s bin Laden-esque words come from?

They couldn’t have been a response to American imperialism (the start of the conflict precedes the presidency of George Washington), U.S. foreign policy, globalization, AIPAC or Islamophobia. Yet his words are virtually identical to those spouted ad nauseum by jihadists today who justify their bellicosity as a reaction to these U.S.-centric factors, which were nonexistent in Adja’s time.

How do we make sense of this? Well, the common denominator here just happens to be the elephant in the room.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and the foiled al Qaeda-backed plot in Toronto, the “anything but jihad” brigade is out in full force again. If the perpetrators of such attacks say they were influenced by politics, nationalism, money, video games or hip-hop, we take their answers at face value. But when they repeatedly and consistently cite their religious beliefs as their central motivation, we back off, stroke our chins and suspect that there has to be something deeper at play, a “root cause.”

The taboo against criticizing religion is still so astonishingly pervasive that centuries of hard lessons haven’t yet opened our eyes to what has been apparent all along: It is often religion itself, not the “distortion,” “hijacking,” “misrepresentation” or “politicization” of religion, that is the root cause.

The recent attack on “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens by Nathan Lean and Murtaza Hussain have been endorsed by renowned liberal writers like Glenn Greenwald, who has also recently joined a chorus of denialists convinced that jihad and religious fervor had nothing to do with the Tsarnaev brothers’ motive, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary. (HuffPost Live recently had a great segment holding Murtaza Hussain accountable for his claims.)

In a way, these attacks on Dawkins et al. are a good thing. Typically, resorting to ad hominem attacks and/or labeling the opposing side “bigoted” is a last resort, when the opponent is unable to generate a substantive counterargument.

I’ll give one more excerpt from Rivzi, but do read the piece yourself, as well as Sean Faircloth’s related piece at the Richard Dawkins site, “Are liberals finally going to get it this time about Islam?

Rivzi (my emphasis):

I also understand that extremism in any ideology isn’t a distortion of that ideology. It is an informed, steadfast adherence to its fundamentals, hence the term “fundamentalism.” When you think of a left-wing extremist, do you think of a greedy capitalist? Would you imagine a right-wing extremist to be dedicated to government-funded social welfare programs? The “extremists” and strict followers of the Jain faith, which values the life of every being, including insects, don’t kill more than their average co-religionists. Instead, they avoid eating foods stored overnight so as not to kill even the microorganisms that may have collected in the meantime. In a true religion of peace, the “extremists” would be nonviolent pacifists to an extreme (and perhaps annoying) degree, not the opposite.

Too often in the aftermath of these tragedies, whether they occur in Boston or Karachi, I notice people rushing to defend the faith from judgment instead of acknowledging the victims. If a link is considered or even discovered, everyone from the Western media to Hollywood deems that person “Islamophobic” for linking Islam to terrorism.

But the number-one reason that terrorism is linked with Islam is not the media or “Islamophobes.” It is that jihadi terrorists link themselves with Islam.

. . . For the fast-growing secularist/humanist movement, criticism of religion isn’t a demonstration of bigotry but a struggle against it. To us, bigotry against bigotry isn’t bigotry, and intolerance of intolerance isn’t intolerance.

Those liberals who accuse critics of Islam of being “Islamophobes” remind me of those pro-evolutionists who get mad when I emphasize the obvious fact that virtually all creationism comes from religion. There is no doubt of that, and no doubt that the tenets of Islam motivate most Islamic terrorists. They say so! Are we to second-guess them? In fact, religiously-motivated creationists hide their true motivations (e.g., advocates of Intelligent Design) far more often than do Muslim jihadists.

The “Islamophobia” canard comes, in part, from a sneaking suspicion that it’s bad to criticize religion because some people simply need it. Combined with this faitheism is the double standard that we shouldn’t hold other ethnic groups to as high a standard as we do our own. But when religions infringe on basic human rights, as Islam does so frequently, then it is not bigotry to criticize it.

Even more misguided is the assertion that Islam’ is no worse than any other religion in suppressing  human rights.  As if Quakers would throw acid on schoolgirls or issue fatwas! Such claims are simply stupid, but typical of a mentality that abandons all rationality when defending faith itself.

In response to such a claim by Glenn Greenwald, Sam Harris proposed a “dueling cartoon” contest:

Screen shot 2013-05-06 at 10.07.04 AM

What Sam proposed here is that he would post cartoons making fun of any faith other than Islam, and in return Greenwald would post anti-Islamic cartoons. A very clever proposal, and one with a predictable outcome.

Greenwald didn’t respond.  Checkmate Harris.

118 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I was wondering if you were going to comment on Rizvi’s article. I liked it a lot and coincidentally work with the author’s brother – small world. I thought the Thomas Jefferson quote was quite clever.

    • Stan Pak
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      The quote is indeed clever. It entirely neutralizes argument of apparent recent US imperialistic actions and politics against Islamic countries as a reason motivating the terrorists’ attacks.

      • Nick B.
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        You must be joking. I don’t doubt in the least that a great deal of violence directed against the US does stem from the perpetrators understanding of Islam but no thinking person can look at the last 12 years and not think that a good portion of it arises directly because of US violence. Seriously? You don’t think any of the violence of the ‘terrorists’ has anything to do our invading, occupying, killing, bombing, torturing, kidnapping, and blind support of a violent, criminal state in the heart of the Muslim world?

        • Gary W
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          You don’t think any of the violence of the ‘terrorists’ has anything to do our invading, occupying, killing, bombing, torturing, kidnapping, and blind support of a violent, criminal state in the heart of the Muslim world?

          I don’t accept your characterization of U.S. foreign policy. It’s another attempt to divert attention from the religious motives of Islamic terrorists.

          • Nick B.
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            No it isn’t. I said up front that I accept the reality of religious motives of Islamic terrorists. And my “characterization of US foreign policy” is not up to you to accept or not. Everything I stated is a fact. You seriously dispute that?

            • Gary W
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

              I said up front that I accept the reality of religious motives of Islamic terrorists.

              As I said, you’re trying to divert attention from the terrorists’ religious motives by invoking your political views about U.S. foreign policy.

              And my “characterization of US foreign policy” is not up to you to accept or not. Everything I stated is a fact. You seriously dispute that?

              Of course I do. Your assertion of “blind support” by the U.S. is most certainly NOT a “fact.” Neither is your attribution of Islamic terrorism to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

        • A Shawki
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          I’ll give you all that you mentioned about US foreign policy. But that’s not the point, this is a typical apologist’s view, making excuses for a violent act. The question is why do Muslim extremists respond with such terrorist acts targeted at innocent civilians? and not just against other faiths, but against other sects of the same faith. Simple, the Quraan tells them to. They will always find an excuse, whether in Pakistan, Bangladesh, London or New York, because of some war or some cartoons. The Quraan says that for God, religion is Islam. That all others are apostates, that jihad is a duty on every true Muslim.

          Forget all the nice talk about “You have your faith and I have mine” and “you’re free to believe or not believe” That’s a con, that was in the early days in Mecca, all that was changed later in Medina when Islam was established.

          This is a deep religious and civilizational hatred that goes way before Israel or American foreign policy.

          • Nick B.
            Posted May 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

            I generally agree with what you say. But you think the view that not all that the western media and political class call ‘terrorism’ is borne entirely of religious belief is a “typical apologist view”? Wow.

            As an aside, I didn’t say anything about US foreign policy; rather US *actions*.

        • A Shawki
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

          It’s not always about the US and it’s foreign policy. America has seen fewer terrorist attacks than other nations.

          “Most of the victims of Muslim extremism are not in America, or other western nations. They are the citizens of numerous Muslim majority countries where women’s rights are denied in torturous and deadly ways, and so-called apostates and violators of Sharia are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned, or killed.”

          Please read this

          http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2013/5/2/are-liberals-going-to-finally-get-it-this-time-about-islam

  2. Taz
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Greenwald responded with this:

    Why don’t we settle it with an invasion, bombing and occupation contest? I’ll take US & Israel – you can have anyone else.

    But if Glenn wants to complain about Western imperialism, that’s fine. I promise not to take it as a statement that every Westerner is evil.

    Why can’t people like Greenwald get it through their heads that Islam is an ideology, not a race?

    • Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      I don’t even get just what the heck Greenwald is trying to SAY by that reply. What on EARTH does it have to do with the subject they were discussing?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        I almost think Greenwald made those comments and then just couldn’t back down because his arguments are just so flawed but to save face he had to stand his ground….I have no evidence or this but when you watched the discussion it was just so face palming.

      • Josh
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        I think that Greenwald’s point is that, regardless of religious motivations behind violence against cartoonists, the nationalist and racist motivations behind US and Israeli foreign policy have caused significantly more destruction and pain.

        • Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, but more Muslims have suffered from Islamic violence than any other group. That can’t be due to US and Israeli foreign policy.
          Look what’s happening in Bangladesh right now.

        • Suri
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          They do have a thing for killing each other too. The frequent bombings in Iraq being the perfect example.
          They seem to hate muslims from other sects as much as non- muslims.

          • microraptor
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

            The only thing a religious extremist hates more than someone who isn’t a member of their faith is someone who’s a member of their faith and doesn’t do it “correctly.”

        • Josh
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Here’s a great write-up by Greenwald that explains his point in a lot more words, I think: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/24/boston-terrorism-motives-us-violence

          Money quotes, the first of which undermines the notion that Islam is the driving factor in recent terrorist attacks and the second of which makes clear exactly what Greenwald’s tweet meant:

          “In the last several years, there have been four other serious attempted or successful attacks on US soil by Muslims, and in every case, they emphatically all say the same thing: that they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world – violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children: [for quotations, see article]”

          “These same people often love to accuse Muslims of being tribal without realizing the irony that what they are saying – Our Side is Superior and They are Inferior – is the ultimate expression of rank tribalism. They also don’t seem ever to acknowledge the irony of Americans and westerners of all people accusing others of being uniquely prone to violence, militarism and aggression”

          • JBlilie
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

            So why is Greenwald unwilling to take up Harris’s challenge?

          • JBlilie
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            This is worth a read: Sam Harris on Islamophobia.

          • Gary W
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

            Money quotes, the first of which undermines the notion that Islam is the driving factor in recent terrorist attacks

            Baloney. Greenwald is quote-mining to deliberately misrepresent the terrorists’ motives.

            For example, here is what Abdulmutallab said before and after Greenwald’s cherry-picked excerpt:

            In late 2009, in fulfillment of a religious obligation, I decided to participate in jihad against the United States. The Koran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah, those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them, some parts of the Koran say, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth …

            …I was greatly inspired to participate in jihad by the lectures of the great and rightly guided mujahedeen who is alive, Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, may Allah preserve him and his family and give them victory, Amin, and Allah knows best. Participation in jihad against the United States is considered among the most virtuous of deeds in Islam and is highly encouraged in the Koran

          • John
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            How about some input on this issue straight from the horse’s mouth? In a May 28, 1998 interview that ABC News correspondent John Miller conducted with Osama bin Laden in his training camp in Afghanistan, here was Mr. Miller’s first question and bin Laden’s answer:

            JOHN MILLER: Mr. Bin Laden, to Americans you are an interesting figure: A man who comes from a background of wealth and comforts who ended up fighting on the front lines. Many Americans would think that’s unusual.

            OSAMA BIN LADEN:
            Thanks be to Allah. It is hard for one to understand if the person does not understand Islam. In our religion we believe that Allah created us to worship him. Allah is the one who created us and blessed us with this religion, and orders us to carry out the holy struggle “jihad” to raise the word of Allah above the words of the unbelievers.

            A transcript of this interview was introduced as evidence in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui (who pled guilty in federal court to conspiring to kill Americans as part of the September 11 attacks) and is available here:

            http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/AQ00081T.pdf

            • Gary W
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

              You don’t even need to look at interviews. Just read the fatwa issued by Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden declaring jihad against the United States. Their motives are explicitly religious. They invoke God (Allah) twenty times. They quote directly from the Koran. They explicitly justify their efforts to kill Americans and American allies on the grounds that the killing was ordered by Allah because of American “occupation” of the sacred lands of Islam.

              http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military/jan-june98/fatwa_1998.html

          • Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

            they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world

            But they were motivated because of a perceived brotherhood with other Muslims! These attacks on American soil were made by Muslims who themselves were not subject to occupation – they lived in countries not subject to American occupation. The only commonality they shared with the actual victims of violence was their religion – Islam.

            I’ll give more credence to Greenwald’s point when I see American Muslims setting off weapons of mass destruction to protest the 50 years worth of unguided missile attacks on Israeli women and children conducted by Palestinians. Waiting patiently…

          • Posted May 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

            This is all beside the point.

            Not even Sam Harris would deny that the US has done things wrong.

            That’s neither here nor there re Islam’s status as a (the most?) very dangerous religion.

            • Posted May 7, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

              GG’s point seems to have always been: focus on the violence and misery *you* are responsible for first, and then worry about what the other guy is doing. So in this case, the US, Canada (to a lesser extent – but think Haiti, for example), the UK, France, etc. have smashed countries into bits repeatedly. Since we live in those modestly democratic countries, we are modestly responsible for a lot of violence we should curb first. The charge is one of hypocrisy.

              • jimroberts
                Posted May 7, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

                We should of course, as you say, first deplore and work against the violence and misery we are (to some extent) responsible for. That certainly does not mean that we should then regard with complacency the harm that others do, over whom we exert little influence. We should not let the mote in our eye blind us to the beam in another’s eye.

              • Nick B.
                Posted May 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

                @jimroberts – Agreed. But who works against the wrongdoing we are responsible for? Very few in my view (Greenwald is one though). Certainly not Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens, except with regard to the pernicious effects of Christianity based in their societies (which is significant, I acknowledge). Harris is more or less approving of the US government’s history of crimes right up to the present. That’s pretty important. And Hitchens? Of course I don’t even need to say. Such a shame the conversion he underwent.

        • Boris Molotov
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          And what “race” are we referring to here?
          If you took a less myopic view, it is quite evident that the US will take out any group or country that it sees as the best interest to take out regardless of “race” or religion. From the Germans, Italians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, subversive wars in the south Americas and Africa, the list is as exhaustive as it is multi-ethnic. Focusing US policy to be “racist” against Islam would be disingenuous not only for this but also for the reason that it was one of the only countries to protect Bosnians from the terror of Christians while the rest of the world sat on it proverbial ass. It also feeds money to the fledgling governments (Islamic!) in Egypt for the support of democracy and human rights. It also hosts a large Muslim population, which enjoys the equal freedoms, protection and full rights of any other citizen far beyond what most Muslim lands offer to Muslims!
          There is a certain population that would like to promote a myopic view to shape their political agenda: ones for proliferation of fascist Islamic ideology, others for anti-imperialistic and anti-fascist intents. Whatever validity of the latter, it certainly does not carry of the the first, it is not only paradoxical but hypocritical. The enemy of your enemy is not your friend.

    • Occam
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      On the subject of invasion and occupation, Greenwald would be well advised to review the history of Islamic conquests.
      The meteoric early spread of this purported “religion of peace” by the sword is an object lesson in itself.

      World history is a history of competing imperialisms, but I think that V.S. Naipaul, who has spent a lifetime investigating at close quarters the effects of imperialism and colonialism, is right when he concludes (in Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples): “There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs.”

      In his earlier study, Among the Believers, Naipaul put it more clearly than anyone I have ever read: “Islam sanctified rage.”

    • Nick B.
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      What are you talking about? Greenwald explicitly said he was not accusing Harris, et al of racism.

      • notsont
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        What is “islamaphobia” if not a form of racism? Are you suggesting its a fear of Islam “the religion of peace”?

      • Gary W
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Greenwald explicitly said he was not accusing Harris, et al of racism.

        Oh please. Yes, he says he’s not accusing Harris of racism “here.” But also that he finds the view that Harris is a racist “a rational view.” The “here” qualifier and the “rational view” bit are typical examples of Greenwald nudge,wink rhetoric. The message to the reader is, “I’m not saying in this particular article that Harris is a racist. But yes, he’s a racist.” Greenwald is despicable.

        • Nick B.
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          I had missed that. Yeah, this is one topic where I think Greenwald doesn’t get it right. I wasn’t in agreement with him about Islamophobia and I’m even less so with his sympathy for racism charges.

  3. matt
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    the islamaphobe stuff is deeply imbedded in these discussions. i linked to Harris’s Response To Controversy back when Keith Kloor was throwing you under the bus with the same retort, and someone there asked me not to include Harris in the discussion because he was bigoted/racists/etc. this reactionary crap is on par with anti-vaxxers and creationists, etc.

    just by virtue of aligning myself with Harris’s thoughts on the matter, i’m constantly labeled as racist, etc. it’s all very face palm inducing.

  4. squidmaster
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I like Harris’ proposal, as it precisely illustrates the difference between Islam and other religions. There are many more adherents of Islam who feel compelled to commit violence against non-co-religionists that there are similar adherents of other faiths.

    Often, when confronted with arguments by the ‘nothing is impossible’ crowd, I’ll propose a bet to instantiate the differences in our opinions. During the recent speculation about faster than light neutrinos, I opined that there was almost certainly some error, as the existence of faster than light neutrinos was impossible within the constraints of relativity. A colleague called me ‘closed minded’ and reminded me that ‘nothing’s impossible’. I agreed that it was not impossible that neutrinos traveled faster than light, but highly unlikely, and offered to bet him $100 that a non-superluminal explanation could be found. He would not take the bet.

    Harris’ suggestion is a similar request to ‘put your money (or your life) where your mouth is’. We need more challenges of this type.

    • Pete Cockerell
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      There are many more adherents of Islam who feel compelled to commit violence against non-co-religionists that there are similar adherents of other faiths.

      Well, to be fair, I don’t think the “against non-co-religionists” part is necessary. Throwing acid in Muslim schoolgirls’ faces and shooting (at least one of) them in the head is well within the bounds of necessary and acceptable behavior for some Muslims. This is another example of why the “it’s all the fault of Western Imperialism” argument is crap. Unless, I suppose, they want to argue that giving girls and women equal standing is one of the evils of Western society.

      • Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        That last point: I think they do.

        /@

        • Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          From the Bangladeshi demands (see newer post):

          4. Stop infiltration of all alien-culture, including shamelessness in the name of individual’s freedom of expression, anti-social activities, adultery, free mixing of male and female and candle lighting.

          5. Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels canceling the anti-Islamic women policy and anti-religion education policy.

          So, pretty much, yes.

          /@

          • Posted May 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

            Ah, but I think Pete Cockerell’s “they” refers to those making the Western oppression argument, i.e., Greenwald and co.

            • Posted May 7, 2013 at 12:20 am | Permalink

              Ah – very well.

              So, I’d say, Western commentators might not, but sufficiently many Muslims do for it to be a significant issue.

              /@

            • Pete Cockerell
              Posted May 7, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

              No, my “they” referred to the acid-throwers, and as Ant pointed out, they really must regard education and equal standing for Muslim women as counter-Islamic corruptions, undoubtedly imported from the West. Though to be sure, I should do some research to discover the finely crafted rationales for these actions, which surely exist.

      • Posted May 7, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Maybe some of them do, but the idea is rather that if you smash societies into pieces, the folks who can pull some sort of order or stability out of the nonsense are often bastards. Think of almost any violent revolution; the smash need not be exogenous.

        • Pete Cockerell
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Is it that schoolgirl-icide is a necessary stop on the road to stability for “smashed” societies? Do you think the acid-throwers are the ones who will contribute to this stability?

          • Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

            No – the claim is rather: what happens when there is no stable functioning society? If there is a power vacuum, often the most ruthless are the ones who can exploit the situation. Think of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union – Putin and such are thugs because they were able to exploit it.

  5. Prof.Pedant
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    That the tenets and worldview of Islam play a role in the perpetuation of violence by some Muslims is indisputable, a fact reinforced by their own claims that Islam plays a role in their actions. However there are two contexts in which the influence of Islam needs to be considered. The first is the number of Muslims who do not commit acts of violence – many of them would seem likely to profess that their belief is as great as those who do commit violence….but their own violence is minimal or largely nonexistent (‘approval’ of violence elsewhere is reprehensible for several reasons, but distinct from actually committing acts of violence). The second context is that modern neuroscience is showing that we are all ‘meat-puppets’, that our conscious thoughts are forms of ‘post hoc rationalization’. Those ‘post hoc rationalizations’ are undoubtedly somewhat revelatory about the sub-conscious decision-making process….but they are rationalizations and not the actual decision-making algorithms. Thus, while Islam is certainly a big part of why ‘Islamic violence’ is occurring, it seems unlikely to be a sufficient explanation all by itself.

    • Gary W
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      The fact that the vast majority of Muslims do not commit acts of violence (or, at least, terrorist violence) is irrelevant. It’s like pointing out that the vast majority of guns are not used to shoot people, as if that means gun violence isn’t a serious problem.

      Islam seems to incite violence (and brutality and oppression more broadly) to a much greater degree than other religions. That’s a problem. A huge problem, in fact. Dawkins says that Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. But Islam is surely one of the greatest forces for evil.

      • Prof.Pedant
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        “The fact that the vast majority of Muslims do not commit acts of violence (or, at least, terrorist violence) is irrelevant.”

        Oh? So you have no interest in trying to increase the number of non-violent/low-violence Muslims? It seems to me that the question of why people frequently do not behave violently is of critical interest to the goal of reducing violence.

        • Occam
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

          Oh come on!
          Positing violence as normality and wondering about the relatively higher prevalence of non-violence reminds me of the Soviet-era joke about Lenin’s legendary kindness:

          One morning, when Lenin was shaving in his bathroom and the window was open, passing schoolchildren greeted him cheerfully: “Good morning, Vladimir Ilyich!”
          To which Lenin answered: “Fuck off and go to hell, you little bastards!”
          Which demonstrates Lenin’s profound kindness and humanity, given that, with his razor, he might just as well have slit the children’s throats.

          • Prof.Pedant
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            I was not posting that violence is normal. Try reading what I wrote once again.

            As for your unfunny ‘joke’, why did Lenin not cut their throats with his razor? Assuming that it is because of any “profound kindness or humanity” would seem to be counter-indicated by his aggressive statement to children who were just being friendly with him. If Lenin is not filled with a love of humanity – why did he not slit the throats of those children? Analogically, if a high percentage of Muslims are ‘damaged people’ because of their religion/ideology – why is the number of Muslims who actually engage in violence not higher? Furthermore, how do Muslims who profess to be as faithful to their religion as any Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, or Lutheran, is manage to seem to be no more damaged by those believes than Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, or Lutherans, are?

            • Occam
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

              1. Not ‘my’ joke — a classic of the Soviet era; “Lenin’s kindness” was a propaganda stereotype.

              2. “If Lenin is not filled with a love of humanity – why did he not slit the throats of those children?”
              You must be joking.
              The proper question — and it leads back to the origins of WEIT as a website dedicated to scientific insights derived from evolutionary biology — should be: why is Lenin swearing at the friendly kids? Why unprovoked aggression?
              If I’m not killing my neighbours, it’s not because of my “love of humanity”. It’s because I’ve no reason to, and many reasons not to.

              3. Therefore the question: do certain types of religious (and social and cultural) conditioning lower the threshold of lethal aggression more significantly than others?
              The experiment is running.

              • Joe Bleau
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

                3. Therefore the question: do certain types of religious (and social and cultural) conditioning lower the threshold of lethal aggression more significantly than others?
                The experiment is running.

                But that’s just it, isn’t it? There’s no “experiment” going on here, no rigorous, falsifiable protocol or set of steps that will support or disconfirm the hypothesis that a) the answer to your question is “yes” and b) one of those “types of conditioning” is the same thing that is commonly (or even technically) known as “Islam” or c) Islam is the predominant type of conditioninng (if it were actually valid to treat an historical survey of Islamic (and pre-Islamic) Middle Eastern traditions of violent Jihad as an experiment then that surely puts the like to the claim that non-violent Muslims are “irrelevant” – they are your positive control group, no?).

                A rigorous experiment really shouldn’t even commence until we’ve straightened out exactly what this “thing” that everybody is calling Islam or Islamic “beliefs” actually is – and then, how can it cause people to do bad things enough to test. If you want to treat it like it’s a virus or a parasite or some other physical phenomenon, seems like you’d want to at least come up with a testable hypothesis for that – otherwise, you’re bound to be stuck in the correlation vs. causation argument.

                Instead, it seems to me that we have a bunch of offended/defensive people throwing invective (“Islamaphobe!” “Denialist!”) and going out of their way to score rhetorical points in lieu of engaging with the best arguments of the alternative viewpoint.

        • Gary W
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          Oh? So you have no interest in trying to increase the number of non-violent/low-violence Muslims?

          I didn’t say anything like that. I’m criticizing your attempt to divert attention from the clear link between Islam and violence.

          • Prof.Pedant
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            In what way is any of what I have said ‘an attempt at diversion’? I did not express any disagreement with the assertion that Islam is a problem, I simply point out that Islam is not the only relevant factor. Or is this comments thread supposed to be a ‘hoot and holler’ session with no interest in actual problem-solving?

            • Gary W
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

              In what way is any of what I have said ‘an attempt at diversion’?

              I already told you, in my first response to you above. You consistently try to divert attention from the point that Islam seems to incite violence (and brutality and oppression more broadly) to a much greater degree than other religions. The fact that most Muslims are not terrorists is irrelevant to this point. The fact that Christianity was much more violent in the past is also irrelevant to the point.

              • Prof.Pedant
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                If, in the discussion following a post about “how to drive in a safe and legal manner”, I were to point out that the speed limit on a section of road is 35mph would I be distracting you from the topic of how to drive in a safe and legal manner? A consideration of the details of and inputs to a problem can never be a distraction from a discussion of the problem.

                Why you, and others, seem to be unable to grasp that the problem of ‘religiously motivated violence’ is more than a problem of religion I have no clue. Clearly religion is a significant problem, even an absolutely huge problem – but it is not the only problem. Acting like a multi-causal problem has only one cause is not an effective problem-solving approach.

              • Gary W
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

                More irrelevance. Nobody said that religion is the only problem.

                You seem incapable of saying anything that is actually relevant to the criticisms of religion that Jerry and others have made.

      • Nick B.
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        “The fact that the vast majority of Muslims do not commit acts of violence (or, at least, terrorist violence) is irrelevant. It’s like pointing out that the vast majority of guns are not used to shoot people, as if that means gun violence isn’t a serious problem.”

        Irrelevant to what? It certainly isn’t irrelevant to understanding Islamic terrorism, given that the religion seems to be a necessary but not sufficient condition.

        It’s an interesting analogy you make with gun violence. (and btw, prof pedant didn’t suggest violence done in the name of Islam isn’t a serious problem, he explicitly said otherwise) Do you think the fact that most gun owners don’t use their guns on other people is relevant to understanding the causes of gun violence? Or in the context of a discussion on gun violence could we expect you to accuse those who point out that factors other than gun ownership must be at play of “diverting attention” from the link between gun ownership and gun violence?

        As an aside, I see that you come down very hard on Islam (I have no love for it either). But I’m curious if you are as critical about any aspect of your own society? Islam may be worse than Christianity now but is it possible that things that our own societies do have an equal if not greater negative impact on the world? Do we have an obligation to be concerned first with our own actions? With what we can affect?

        • Gary W
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          Irrelevant to what?

          Irrelevant to the evidence that Islam is a huge cause of violence and oppression. Not an excuse or pretext for violence and oppression. A huge CAUSE of those things.

          Do you think the fact that most gun owners don’t use their guns on other people is relevant to understanding the causes of gun violence?

          No. It’s irrelevant to the fact that gun violence is a serious problem.

          Or in the context of a discussion on gun violence could we expect you to accuse those who point out that factors other than gun ownership must be at play of “diverting attention” from the link between gun ownership and gun violence?

          If they failed to clearly acknowledge a link between gun ownership and gun violence, and evidence that gun ownership causes gun violence, yes.

          As an aside, I see that you come down very hard on Islam (I have no love for it either). But I’m curious if you are as critical about any aspect of your own society?

          Yes, I’m critical about lots aspects of my own society. But I also think my society is vastly superior to the society in all or almost all Islamic countries. My society is more prosperous, more free, more equal, more democratic, more tolerant, more respectful, more compassionate, more just, and so on. Some societies are much, much better than others. Islamic societies are among the world’s worst.

          • Nick B.
            Posted May 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            Gary W, you have conclusively shown yourself to be someone who is incapable of reading or someone who is quite dishonest. For this reason I will not again exchange with you in this forum. You’re quite the nitwit atheist fundamentalist.

            • Posted May 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

              Hey! No name-calling on this site, please. Accusations of reading disability and dishonesty aren’t really cool, either. I’d prefer that you apologize to Gary W even though you disagree with him.

  6. John
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    The BBC is reporting today that at least 15 people have been killed and more than 60 hurt after police in Bangladesh clashed with an estimated 500,000 protesters, some of whom were heard to be chanting “Atheists must be hanged.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22423815.) The protesters have compiled a list of 13 demands, including the death penalty for those who insult Islam, the imposition of stricter Islamic education, greater segregation of men and women and and end to “candle lighting in the name of personal freedom and free speech.” Although the Bangladeshi Prime Minister pointed out to the protesters that the government had ALREADY arrested four bloggers for making “derogatory comments” against the Prophet Muhammad and promised that they would be punished if found guilty, the protesters were apparently outraged that, under current law, these bloggers can only be imprisoned for 10 years rather than being put to death.

    Oblivious to the concept of irony, the protesters have listed “stop the spread of Islamophobia” as one of the 13 demands they are rioting and killing people to achieve. Once again, this is 500,000 people, not a few Islamic outliers!

    • Sunny
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Oh you, Islamophobe! :)

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Irony and humor are the first parts of the brain to be destroyed by an infection of religion.

      • gbjames
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • notsont
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Using free speech to protest people having free speech is interesting too.

  7. neil
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    How about Greenwald burns the Koran while Harris burns the Bible?

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      There was a time when burning a Bible would have been met with much the same response as burning a Koran is now.

      • neil
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and there was a time when you could be burned at the stake for suggesting life on other worlds, but that was then and this is now.

        • Prof.Pedant
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          And your point is?

          • neil
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            My point is that your observation is irrelevant. Societies evolve, and comparing Islam today to other religions hundreds of years ago is beside the point. The world as a whole was more barbarous then. Oddly enough, during Islam’s golden age, it may have been more enlightened that Christianity was at the time. But that is not relevent either. We are concerned here about the present state of Islam, and there is no denying that a significant segment of Islamic leadership advocates violence against “infidels”, including other muslims.

            • Prof.Pedant
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

              Do you have any interest in changing that? If so I suggest looking at how Christendom changed might be useful.

              • neil
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

                I have no interest or power to change it. It is the people of that faith who need to change it. The rest of us need to protect ourselves from the fanatics.

      • muuh-gnu
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Which is exactly the point. Organized Islam today is as lunatic and dangerous as organized Catholicism around 1200 AD.

        • gluonspring
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          But, thanks to modern technology, potentially much better armed.

      • darrelle
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        That is very obviously true. What are you trying to get across by responding to neil’s comment with this? Do you think it is likely that he is not aware of that? Do you think that criticism of Islam should be moderated because another religion was, in the past, at least as violent and repressive as Islam still is?

        Do you think that giving respect to Islamic beliefs is likely to help moderate the violence and repression associated with the religion?

        • Prof.Pedant
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          The kind of violence that is all too common in Islam today was once all too common in Christendom. While many of us are not in any sense ‘Christians’ we are operating in the successor civilization – that Islam must always be the way it is now is no more true than that Christendom would always be the way that it was. Islam is no more alien to us than our own cultural or biological ancestors are.

          • darrelle
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

            I don’t understand what you are arguing about here. The points you make are mostly accurate and I think most people you are responding to would agree with most of them. But they are not counter arguments to the comments you are responding to, they don’t really address them at all. If your intent is to say that criticizing Islam is wrong because . . ., or that we should not criticize Islam because . . ., then your arguments seem to be non sequitur.

            • Prof.Pedant
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

              Because those are not my points at all. Islam is every bit as deserving of criticism as any other religion. My point is that it was not so long ago that the ‘kind of people we were’ was much the same as ‘the kind of people they are’ – this is a similarity that ‘we’ share with ‘them’. Intolerance of the out-group is not an unusual human behavior, indeed it is so easy a pattern to fall into that those combating intolerance can unintentionally slide into the same sort of error and start to be intolerant of the people instead of their actions, ideas, or words. It is important to remember that those in error are as human as we are and that in all probability only an accident of birth prevented “us” from being “them”.

              • darrelle
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

                I don’t understand. The points you are making are not your points at all? This very comment that I am responding to is precisely what I described in my previous one. What you just said is not unknown, is actually widely known, and would almost certainly be acknowledged by anyone involved in this conversation. But none of what you have said is a valid response to the OP or similar comments. It is a non sequitur, or off topic, off target, or something like that. It doesn’t address, one way or the other, what everyone else is talking about.

      • JBlilie
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Yes, exactly! Proof that some societies have progressed past the 8th century … and others , not so much.

      • notsont
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        That is the point isn’t it though, religion does not change. The Catholics would still be burning people if they were allowed too. The only reason they don’t is because their power was broken by secularists.

        • neil
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          Actually, its power was broken by the Reformation, which was not engineered by the secularists. It was engineered by rival interpretations of christian doctrine by Luther and others. In England, it was engineered by henry VIII’s desire for revenue and divorce.

    • Suri
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Ohhh, good one.
      One would be dead in two days..guess whom.

    • JBlilie
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      How about Greenwald simply publicly discusses the idea of writing a play entitled The Koran, A Comedy in Three Acts? Should be enough to earn him death-threats and a fatwa or two. Who the hell does he think he’s fooling?

  8. William Stewart
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Google “Winston Churchill on Islam” and note among other observations his statement that Islam is “a militant and proselytizing faith”. Also note his judgment that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”.

    • jimroberts
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      And he continued: “were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilization of modern Europe might fall”. But now, although Islam, like Christianity, struggles against science, it has adopted the weapons which science has provided.

  9. tombesson
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Back in my new age punk days, I wrote a song called “It’s all just bullshit. That’s what my guru said”. The sentiment is relevant today in regards to religion. Everything we make up (construct) in our heads is a metaphor, which is fine as long as we use the metaphors to guide us in living our own lives. They become bullshit when they are foisted off onto others as the truth. It’s challenging to brand another’s deeply held religious convictions as bullshit, but the message has to be repeated over and over until those who spew it wake up and smell their creation.

  10. Joe Bleau
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Clever? Maybe, as a rhetorical device. But as a premise of an argument, it is beyond useless, and disingenuous to the point that I find myself struggling to take anything else that he says seriously.

    I am unaware of anyone who claims that the U.S. is solely or uniquely responsible for whatever ideology or mythology might have animated those who have historically claimed “Jihad” as motivation for whatever bad acts they have perpetrated, in whatever age they may have lived. That is an entirely different proposition than positing what particular smorgasbord of pathologies and resentments might motivate a specific modern-day evildoer to perform a specific modern-day act. Implying that your interlocutor is too stupid to grok that there might be some history behind the tradition of Muslim Jihad that predates the Bush administration is blatant tilting at strawmen.

    The recent attack on “new atheists”… have been endorsed by renowned liberal writers like Glenn Greenwald, who has also recently joined a chorus of denialists convinced that jihad and religious fervor had nothing to do with the Tsarnaev brothers’ motive, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

    Again, I’ve not encountered a single person arguing in good faith who claims “that jihad and religious fervor had nothing to do with the Tsarnaev brothers’ motive”.

    Oh, hey, look, even our august host is joining the struggle:

    Even more misguided is the assertion that Islam’[sic] is no worse than any other religion in suppressing human rights.

    Has anyone actually argued this? Have I missed the good-faith argument from a credible source that posits as a premise that the tenets of The Religious Society of Friends is as fecund a host for human rights abuses as is Islam?

    • Joe Bleau
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Ugh, this was supposed to be a reply to #1 @ Diana MacPherson. Sorry.

      • Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        You know the rules about insulting your genial host, who doesn’t remain genial after reading snark like “your august host”.

        • Joe Bleau
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          I sincerely apologize, and retract the snark.

          I actually do hold both you and your blog in exceedingly high regard, so “august” was not meant as sarcasm; but of course there are much better ways of expressing the fact that IMO this particular passage is honestly not up to your usual high standards.

          Again, I’m sorry, and I’ll be more careful.

          • steve oberski
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

            This is not a blog.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Well, it is clever because often people (recently liberals) do not want to accept bad thinking perpetuated by Islam as the root cause of attacks. Instead they turn a blind eye and desperately look for some other root cause (even when someone who performs an attack explicitly says they did it for their Islamic religion!). We saw this in the media after the Boston attacks.

      This new “root cause” is often attributed to Western behaviour – imperialism or foreign policy.

      This quote highlights that there was bad thinking in Islam well that advocated attacks well before western imperialism or US foreign policy…ergo start looking to the real root cause.

      • Joe Bleau
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        This quote highlights that there was bad thinking in Islam well that advocated attacks well before western imperialism or US foreign policy…ergo start looking to the real root cause.

        Right. And it only holds any rhetorical force to the extent that someone actually believes that there was no “bad thinking” in Islamic tradition prior to the specifically American flavor of imperialism that took hold sometime in the 19th Century. Except no one actually holds this (nutters and uneducated people don’t count). Certainly Greenwald doesn’t.

        The proposition that “bad thoughts” are the “root cause” of any and all violence and abuse done in the name of Islam is not an obvious or uncontested truth. If people want to argue for that, fine, but infantilising the good arguments for the other side is not the best way to do it, IMO.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          I dunno, advocating that one should wage war against “sinners” who don’t accept their authority (of Islam) with the reward of Paradise sounds like bad thinking to me and I am pretty sure it sounded like bad thinking even in the 18th C.

          • Joe Bleau
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            I’m not arguing that it’s not “bad thinking” – I’m arguing that no one (at least no one that I have read, anyway – but again, I try to tune out the nutters and the uneducated) is really trying to excuse the worst excesses of those who do bad things in the name of Islam, or claim that the U.S. is totally responsible.

            Really, this particular topic seems to bring out the worst of both sides. I’m just trying to find and engage the good stuff. I think that there is a really interesting and important debate here, about to what extent we can rigorously identify a coherent concrete “thing” or set of things called Islam or maybe Islamic “beliefs” and if so whether or not we can/should try to treat it like a virus and somehow eradicate it, or maybe whether it is something that we can/should test for in humans in order to prevent disaster and/or mete out justice.

            But the interesting debate seems to keep getting drowned out in the cries of “Islamaphobe!” “Deniaist!”.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

              Check Josh’s link above – Greenwald purports this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/24/boston-terrorism-motives-us-violence

              Then there is this UN official: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/24/canada-lambasts-un-official-for-saying-boston-bombings-caused-by-american-global-domination-project/ though he may be a “nutter” and he was lambasted by many.

              So it is a position taken and written about.

              • Joe Bleau
                Posted May 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

                OK, I just read the entire Greenwald link that you provided, and I can’t find a single instance where he a) denies the fact of historical violent Islamic Jihad, b) asserts that Islam had nothing to do with the bombings or any given instance of violence done in the name of Jihad or Islam, or c) in any way excuses or condones the violent acts themselves.

                He admittedly comes close here:

                As the attackers themselves make as clear as they can, it’s not religious fanaticism but rather political grievance that motivates these attacks. Religious conviction may make them more willing to fight (as it does for many in the west), but the motive is anger over what is being done by the US and its allies to Muslims.

                The first sentence is poorly stated and can be interpreted (somewhat uncharitably) as claiming that there is some sort of exclusive binary either/or type of causation to the violence – it’s either religious fanaticism OR anger over US policy. But he clarifies in his very next sentence that he does think that religious conviction can play a role, by making them more willing to fight.

                FWIW, I don’t particularly agree with his distinction between “motive” and “may make them more willing to fight”, but it seems pretty clear to me that his argument in this piece pretty much boils down to “don’t downplay resentment against US policy as a motive”. Heck, I don’t even see him (in this piece) as saying that Harris and Sullivan are wrong that Islam plays a role, but rather that they are unwilling to consider US transgressions as part of the picture.

                As for the U.N. dude, the piece to which you have linked quite honestly does not print nearly enough of his actual remarks to make any reasonable determination of whether he is a nutter or not. I confess that I have no idea what a “UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories” even does at the UN, so I have no idea whether or not he is someone whom I should take seriously – nor am I familiar with the publication in question, so I don’t know whether e.g. they are the Canadian version of the New York Times or the New York Post.

                Nevertheless, it would not shock me to find out that he is a nutter and/or an irrational mouthpiece whose main role is to spout self-serving platitudes that only address one side of a very complicated and difficult issue. The article in question certainly brings back memories of Baghdad Bob…

              • Marella
                Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

                If violent Muslims are caused by American global domination, they’re a bit late on the wagon. American global domination is looking a bit green about the gills from where I’m standing, so I assume it won’t be long before these people start bombing the Chinese. I look forward to the response of the Chinese government to this sort of thing going down in Shanghai. They won’t waste time with liberal hand wringing about their sins, and suddenly American global domination will be the good old days.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted May 7, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

              Greenwald says, “it’s often asked “what can we do to stop Terrorism?” The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence.”

              Greenwald concludes the root cause of Islamic terrorism is US foreign policy. While this may not exactly help things, he refuses to consider that Islam itself encourages terrorist behaviour.

  11. Peter Beattie
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Is it really so difficult to hold two complementary thoughts in one’s mind? There are both obviously religiously motivated actions and obviously imperialism-related actions. Yes, there are religious fanatic you will take to the streets to call for infidels to be killed; and yes, there are people who call for retaliation against the US because a US drone killed their families. Both phenomena are real and need to be addressed. And since both have reached horrific proportions, neither can claim that it is the only truly relevant factor.

  12. jimroberts
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    sub

  13. Nilou Ataie
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Sam is exactly right. For those who do not fear Islam please draw a cartoon of Mohammad (PBUH or some such nonsense) and post it with your name attached. If you cannot, explain why. I would like to add that doing such a thing may cost you a head in much of the world, so please be careful.

  14. Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    The following article about the recently foiled plot against Via rail in Toronto is also very troubling, to put it mildly. Apparently, one of the men charged has suggested in court that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the Criminal Code because it is “not a holy book.” !

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Montreal+suspect+alleged+train+terror+plot+says+Canada/8287912/story.html

  15. Nick B.
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    “…liberal writers like Glenn Greenwald, who has also recently joined a chorus of denialists convinced that jihad and religious fervor had nothing to do with the Tsarnaev brothers’ motive, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.”

    That is flat-out false. I read Greenwald everyday. I’m quite sure that early on he merely said we should have evidence as to what their motive was before we draw conclusions about it. The truth is the opposite of what this fellow claims.

    • gbjames
      Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      “this fellow”? Which fellow?

      • Nick B.
        Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        The fellow whom I quoted. Rivzi.

  16. kelskye
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    The awful thing about Islam is that it’s tied to a political and self identity well beyond its religious contexts that any complaint about the radicals would be seen as a complaint against all people. Perhaps we’re used to being able to atomise parts of our worldview out, and don’t appreciate how difficult that can be for people from a different way of life.

  17. gbjames
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been too busy with work to participate in the WEIT conversation for the past couple of weeks. I miss y’all, especially on a rousing posting like this one!

  18. Nick B.
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Why aren’t my comments posting? wtf?

    • darrelle
      Posted May 7, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      I have seen many comments by you, are you sure they aren’t posting? I think it is SOP that comments by new guests are held for review before actually being posted, so there may be a bit of a delay. The host here typically tells you directly if you have broken his rules and are in danger of becoming unwelcome.

  19. Posted May 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    Here’s another little bit of stuff to read. You probably know that I disagree with Sam Harris on a number of issues… but often enough he’ll hit it out of the park. Enjoy

  20. John
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    The obvious reason Greenwald didn’t respond to the challenge was that he was scared. In his heart he knows the difference between his progaganda and his safety. I’m surprised he didn’t respond with some tap-dance rationalization that Sam Harris’s challenge was a trap, etc., etc. He knows better, and I think his reticence to engage the challenge demonstrates that clearly.

  21. Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    This is good article

  22. Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Rattlers Pit.

  23. Diane G.
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    sub

  24. ridelo
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Compare the liberation of Iraq from a dictator with the liberation of Europe from the Nazi dictatorship. Why wasn’t the latter followed by years of turmoil as is the case in the Middle East. In Europe most people – even many Germans – were relieved that the nightmare was over.
    I can’t see any other major cause for the difference than religion.


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  1. […] An ex-Muslim exposes the “Islamophobia” canard […]

  2. […] on that there are two links I learned of through WEIT that are worth reading. One is from an ex-Muslim who gives his perspective on […]

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