The Canadian ex-Muslim Eiynah, also known as “Nice Mangos” —it’s telling that many ex-Muslims, but not ex-Jews or ex-Catholics, must hide their identity—drew my attention to an article in Time Magazine with this tw**t:
And Eiynah’s right with her claim that similar displays by Christians would be cringe-worthy. In fact, we don’t even have to speculate about it: we already have an example in the form of “Tebowing.” Tim Tebow, a former quarterback for the Denver Broncos, used to drop to his knees on the field after a victory, genuflecting and thanking the nonexistent god he loved so fervently. Here’s one of his poses. He did this so often that it became a meme, and a subject of national debate.
And indeed, a lot of people liked Tebow’s behavior, for there are always those who prize public displays of Christianity. Indeed, at the University of Florida, Tebow used to wear Biblical verses on the black pigment that quarterbacks often wear under their eyes (supposedly to stop sun glare). You can look up this verse for yourself.
But, as the New York Times recounts, there was plenty of criticism of this excessive religiosity as well, with Tebow being seen by some as a “religious nut job.” There’s even a a website that mocks his gesture, showing people Tebowing all over the globe. So yes, there’s not universal approbation for public displays of Christianity on the athletic field.
But there is for Islam. We’ve already seen the huge outpouring of enthusiasm for Ibtihaj Muhammad, the American who fenced in the Olympics wearing a hijab. Even Hillary Clinton tweeted about that, even though there was nothing courageous or heroic about Muhammad’s act, and in the end she turned out to be a pretty nasty exponent of anti-Semitism. There’s nothing to celebrate about an athlete from the U.S. wearing religious garb during the Olympics, particularly a garment that is a symbol of oppression: of a religion that views women as temptresses who can incite men’s uncontrollable lust by showing a wisp of hair. Yes, women have the right, or should, to wear hijabs everywhere, and some even claim to do it by “choice”—although what does that mean when there’s often severe social pressure by family and peers to conform? But let’s not deem the wearing of headscarves to be “heroic”. What would be “heroic” would be a woman in Iran or Saudi Arabia—where wearing the head-shackle is mandatory—to take it off in public.
But of course the Western media, even on the Left, have bought into Islamic exceptionalism: what would be cringe-worthy or mocked if it were done by Christians or Jews is seen as wonderful when done by Muslims. This is done out of fear—fear of two sorts. Fear that one could be attacked physically for criticizing or not sufficiently deferring to a religion whose adherents have made “I’m offended” their trademark, and fear that one will be called a bigot for not sufficiently osculating the Oppressed. It all stinks, for it’s all about celebrating the inimical effects of religion on human behavior.
But according to the latest venue to osculate Islam, Time magazine, the religion is all positive. Have a look at this headline below (click the screenshot to go to the site)
My first temptation is to say one could write a counter-headline: “20 beheadings and 5 gays thrown off buildings show the negative power of Islam.” But, that aside, I bet that Time hasn’t used examples from the Olympics to show the positive power of Christianity or Judaism! Nope, it’s Islam that must be coddled and its “positive power” extolled at all costs.
Time gives three examples, and maybe the first one does show a salubrious influence of the faith on one athlete, Mo Farah, who won the men’s 10,000-meter dash. I quote from Time:
After he crossed the finish line, Farah fell on the track again—this time to pray. He bowed his head before a stadium of adoring spectators. That performance was just as dramatic as racing past Kenya’s Paul Kipngetich Tanui to win this third gold medal.
Farah’s prayer can help counter the damaging stereotypes of Muslims held by many around the world. For Farah, and scores of Muslim athletes, faith is not incidental, but central to their excellence in sport. “I normally pray before a race,” Farah said. “I read du’aa [Islamic prayers or invocations] think about how hard I’ve worked and just go for it.”
First of all, it’s not a stereotype of Muslims, at least one I’m familiar with, that their faith is “incidental”. We all know that it’s one of the faiths most closely bound up with politics and social lives. As far as Farah’s performance is concerned, maybe his faith had something to do with it, but we don’t know for sure. He feels it does, but that’s not even evidence for a placebo effect. All Time can really say is that Mo Farah prays before he races, and he won.
What about athletes who don’t pray before they race, because they’re atheists, and they win too? Would you say that shows the “positive power of atheism”? Does Michael Phelps’s stupendous performance in the Olympics show “the amazing power of cupping”?Why wouldn’t Time write that? What about an athlete who wins wearing his lucky shoes? Would Time say “Olympic athlete shows positive power of lucky shoes”?
Time‘s example number 2 is a hijab-wearing weightlifter from Egypt:
Donning all black with a red headscarf, the colors of her nation, the diminutive [Sara] Ahmed lifted a combined weight of 255kg (562lbs) to claim the bronze medal in the 69kg weight class. The feat, given her nationality and ethnicity, was unprecedented. Ahmed became an instant icon in her native Egypt, becoming the first female medalist in the nation’s 104-year history in Olympics’ competition and the first Arab woman to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting.
As she bowed her head to receive her medal, Ahmed represented world-class power, strength and Muslim womanhood, disrupting tropes that have enabled headscarf bans in France and trite oppression narratives in America and elsewhere.
Time doesn’t report anything that Ahmed said about her faith. She just wore a hijab when lifting. How does that show the positive power of Islam? We see here Time’s virtue signaling: “See, we’re not racists because we love those who wear hijabs!” And, of course, Time doesn’t point out how in places like Iran, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, women are deliberately weakened by the state—on religious grounds.
The last example is Ibtihaj Muhammad:
Ibtihaj Muhammad was a star in the Muslim American community long before she stepped onto the global scene. But her story was about far more than being “the first U.S. Olympian to wear a hijab during competition.” She championed a cause long-ignored by non-Muslims and Muslims alike: the distinct experience of African American Muslims and the distinct perils often created by intersecting racism and Islamophobia.
The other cause she champions, which Time didn’t mention, is to promulgate lies about Israel on her social media site (they were pointed out to her, but she refused to retract them). But that means nothing alongside the fact that she wore a hijab and is considered “oppressed”. (I don’t find much evidence for that.) Yes, kudos to her for her persistence, but in the end, she became a fencer because no other sport was open to a woman who refused to remove her hijab. Had she doffed that symbol, she could have played any sport she wanted. The hijab limits women, even when they wear it “by choice”.