The hijab as a Confederate flag

Ali Rizvi gave an excellent talk yesterday at the Imagine No Religion meeting, a talk about how radical Islam has cowed Leftists by using the ambiguous but nasty term “Islamophobe”, which terrifies Leftists almost as much as the word “racist”.  That’s why criticism of Islam by the Left is much more muted than criticism of other faiths. And that is exactly what those Muslims (and organizations like CAIR) want: they want not only bigotry against Muslims stopped—and I fully agree—but they also want criticism of their faith stopped.

But I don’t agree that religious dictates should be immune from criticism: as Ali said, “Ideas do not deserve respect, it is people who deserve respect.” He added that those Leftists who either refuse to criticize Islam or—like the Islam-osculators at HuffPo—even hold it up as a force for good and a “religion of peace,” are thus victims of terrorism just as much as those who are afraid of being physically attacked. Such apologists are exactly what Islamist terrorists hope to produce—as they make their religion the only one immune from criticism.

I asked Ali what he thought of the hijab fetish we see in the West: the adulation of women wearing hijabs (even “voluntarily”), and the claim, made by women like Linda Sarsour, that veiling is somehow a sign of feminism and women’s empowerment. Ali’s reply was a good one, and went something like this:

“My wife has a good take on this. She sees the hijab in the same way she sees the Confederate flag. You’re free to wear it, just as you’re free to wave the Confederate flag, but be aware of what it stands for historically.”

Ali called for all of us to speak up against the pernicious and oppressive dictates of Islam (he’s an apostate, raised as a Muslim in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). It is through our speaking up, he said, that we will eventually dispel the opprobrium attached to the term “Islamophobe.” In truth, “Islamophobia” means “fear of Islam,” not “fear of or bigotry against individual Muslims.” In the former sense, and as a critic of Islam and one fearful of its ideological consequences, I’m an Islamophobe.


  1. GBJames
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink


  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Very good comparison, the hijab and the confederate flag. What are you really saying when you want that flag around? You approve of slavery? Or maybe the “cause”? The only ones who need to cover their heads are old half bald guys like me. The only thing we know for sure is that Trump has no clue and neither do the apologist on the left.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Want to join my kickstarter?

      I’m designing a “Heritage Not Hate” bumper sticker with Confederate Flag that permanently morphs into a “I’m a terrible human being” sticker after being in the sun for 90 minutes.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted June 4, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        That is good….Heritage not Hate. There were some Confederates, Jefferson Davis for one, who tried to argue after the war that the whole business was about states rights and had nothing to do with slavery. Pretty sure he and a few others were the only ones who believed that crap.

        • dargndorp
          Posted June 4, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          It actually *was* about states’ rights – namely the right to keep the institution of slavery.

          • Randy schenck
            Posted June 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            Not much of a play on words actually. The right to slavery they already had…it was in the constitution. The only states right they were testing was the right to secede and they soon found out, they did not have that one.

            • GBJames
              Posted June 5, 2017 at 6:46 am | Permalink

              I’ll note that the South had no interest in states rights when it came to northern states having the right to not return escaped slaves.

              It is perverse to assert that hundreds of thousands of people died in the Civil War so that Southern politicians could explore the constitutionality of secession.

              • Posted June 5, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

                The concept was “Nullification”, with secession as the implied or open threat. It was essentially minority rule, and it hobbled the Federal government for decades.

        • Diane G.
          Posted June 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          “Pretty sure he and a few others were the only ones who believed that crap.”

          When I lived in Texas in the late 70’s the states rights contention was still going strong.

  3. Mark R.
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I too am an Islamophobe.

    • Mike
      Posted June 5, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      As am I.

  4. sensorrhea
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I had the same thought about comparing hijabs to the confederate flag some time ago and frequently use it when discussing hijabs.

    I came up with it because my wife feels threatened by the hijab the way African Americans feel threatened by the confederate flag – no matter how much the people flying them claim it’s just about “heritage.”

    • sensorrhea
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I actually talked about this in the comments section back in January. Not saying he copied me or anything…

    • frednotfaith2
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Of course, they never admit that not all heritage is good or deserves to be honored. The Confederate “heritage” of the South only existed for 4 years out of over 240, counting from the declaration of independence, a much shorter period of time than the 12 years out of 146 that the Nazis ruled over Germany but rational Germans do not see anything to idealize or get giddy about remembering. The Confederate regime wasn’t nearly as horrific as the Nazis but neither was it anything that any rational person would hold up as a period to hold up as any sort of ideal. It was about wealthy Southern elitists getting mostly poor white people to be cannon fodder to retain and expand the institution of slavery.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        The parallel now–wealthy white corporate tycoons getting mostly poor white people to be economic fodder to retain and expand plutocracy.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Either way it’s an excellent comparison!

    • Sastra
      Posted June 5, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      The comparison would be even more apt if the South had won the war, slavery still existed — and People of Color in the North who loved other things about the South displayed the Confederate flag as a symbol of their personal devotion to the beautiful Southern states. “For me, it represents freedom.” Yeah, right.

      • sensorrhea
        Posted June 5, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink


  5. philfinn7
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Yes. In that sense I am too, and married to a Muslim.

  6. Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    “That’s why criticism of Islam by the Left is much more muted than criticism of other faiths”

    Do you really think that’s the case? To me it seems if you add the occasional criticism from the regressive left, and the almost obsessive criticism of Islam from the anti-regressive left,(including the ironic non-stop claim by many on the left that we don’t criticize Islam enough) you have a situation where the criticism of Islam disproportionate to the negative influence it has at least in the west, and certainly in the US. Add to that the criticism/travel bans/harassment from knife wielding madmen coming at Islam from the right, and no one can argue they are getting off easy.

    • Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      That being said I don’t think enough attention is brought to to the predominantly Muslim victims of Islam in sharia dominated countries.

      • Posted June 4, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        These countries are somewhat like black holes, little information comes out.

      • Craw
        Posted June 4, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        I agree. Most victims of ISIS are Muslims. This rather knocks the pins out from under the root causes/payback for intervention theories. But it makes perfect sense if you see their motivation as religious.

    • somer
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      The mainstream especially public media and liberal press tend to adopt the stance that the real islam is great and any violence is due to anything other than Islam – most typically due to Western foreign policy and colonial history, and also that we should be encouraging/supporting more Muslims to come to the west because we have a moral duty to do so with no limits. Academic publications are even more rife with these assumptions. I avoid conservative media but it becomes like a constant lecture to the point that after a lifetime of public funded media I refer to it far less than I used to.

      • Tom
        Posted June 5, 2017 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        The demonisation of colonialism has been a useful tool for the rise of Communism and ironically the rise of American power. That many others have also latched onto it as being the “cause” of so many acts of destruction is no surprise, it’s an easy target.
        Very few I believe have understood that the collapse of these “empires” including the Ottoman has itself been the cause of the chaos in many countries. It is my opinion that that in a couple of centuries historians will look back at the 20th and 21st centuries and see something similar to events following the collapse of Classical world.

  7. Posted June 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    *That* is a good comparison. And would make a great piece of artwork as well…

  8. Posted June 4, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Well written post!

  9. rickflick
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Je suis Charlie!

  10. Posted June 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    And many of us are Christianophobes and Judaeophobes for exactly the same reasoning. The comparison of Hijab or the common wearing of a cross around the neck or Yarmulke on the head WITH the hateful history of the modified confederate flag is apt.

    • Molly Harden
      Posted June 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Add that white and blue Mother Teresa headscarf. Seeing that rag gives me a similar feeling to seeing the confederate flag and other symbols of hate.

  11. Posted June 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m waiting for Islam the moderates to blow their collective stacks, in the west at least. For surely they know some of the victims, are themselves victims and live, work and play in these areas. Hold the radical to account and denounce them. Do they have some degree of shame for their religion? Pray harder it might go away. Enter the regressive leftist, nothing to do….. real victims are in the fucking morgue or hospital.
    More importantly show they want it to end, because I’m not feeling it Right now people need to feel it, it’s like one flank of society is totally exposed to hate and needs and requires shoring up, I don’t mean retaliate in kind either.
    If it’s downtown Bagdad, London, Paris Islamic moderates need to start making a big noise about the killings, their leaders at the local mosque need to start paying attention and get out of a centuries old rut and grow the fuck up.

    • somer
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      The peak Islamic Councils of the Western states are always composed of Islamists who pretend for the cameras to be doing positive work in their communities, compatible with liberalism, or that bad Islamic stuff is due to being goaded by the west to uncharacteristic illiberalism. Government should shun these bodies and call them out unless they change their membership or at least part of their membership. Government also needs to start calling out Christian clerics who praise Islam or misrepresent it (and sharia) as moderate. And secular movements play a role (i suspect some of the humanists are too sharia friendly)
      And western society needs to have pushback dialogue against the regressive portrayal of these things and fringe rightwing responses and criticise the support/naievety from many prominent christian clerics

      • somer
        Posted June 4, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        I understand in the US the rightwing response isn’t fringe and most clerics are very even virulently anti Islam – but in the rest of the west its different for most mainstream churches. But the point remains throughout the west of valuing free speech and pushing back against the dangerous regressive attempts to muzzle free speech

  12. Pliny the in Between
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    A relevant post from July 2015

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Love it!

    • nicky
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Was just wondering if hijabs made from confederate flags (and swastika flags and the like) would sell. But Pliny saw it well before….

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Ha, ha, that’s fantastic.

      Hmm, if I were braver I’d almost consider wearing that…

  13. eric
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    To extend it, I am as skeptical of a wearer of the hijab saying “its about womens’ rights” as I am of a Confederate flag booster saying “it’s about states’ rights.”
    They’re both hiding their true motivation (most likely bigotry in the latter, religious and cultural influences in the former).

  14. Craw
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    That is a superb analogy and I wish I had thought of it myself. It is like the confederate flag, and I can understand the reflex to brandish it when an outsider criticizes something about your culture, but if you do you need to understand what you are really brandishing.

  15. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Well, obviously it is time to post this photo.

    • somer
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      This is like the sort of gutless response from the BBC “The new world of hipster and heavy metal hijabis” “it makes a religious statement but its also become a fashion accessory”

      versus this from Ex Muslim Yasmine Mohammed
      “Is the Hijab a Choice?”

      Or Safiya Alfaris

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        From the last article:

        “My disdain for this forced hijab grew, and I slowly found my voice on social media. It gave me confidence and a platform to voice my opinions. I was actually surprised by the amount of Muslim women that also shared the same views. How sick of being controlled they were, how sick of being told what to do, how to dress and the constant judgments.”

        If only this faction was achieving all the attention–and support from the Ctrl-left. But wait; there’s a reason we call them Ctrl…

    • somer
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

      Ha !! confederate flag hijab – versus BBC whitewash

  16. Posted June 4, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else see a problem with “That’s why criticism of Islam by the Left is much more muted than criticism of other faiths.”???? Last time I checked, compassion and inclusion is not a religion.

    • drew
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I honestly don’t understand what you’re saying here.

      The second sentence you wrote doesn’t seem to follow at all from your first sentence.

      I question whether you’re a human.

      Is it the case that in your scenario, Islam =compassion and inclusion?

  17. Posted June 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    You know, I view myself as quite far left of center in terms of politics, social justice, human rights, wealth ditribution, health services, LGBTQ issues, and so on, and I can honestly say that I am not in the least bit bothered about being called [fill-in-faith-here]phobic, because I don’t “fear” any of them. I see all of them as abjectly failing in logic, reason and evidence, many in the virtues that they would like us to believe they stand for; and some as “more useless than others” in a kind of Orwellian sense (i.e., some are “more equal than others”), if you know what I mean. Similarly, I see many political organizations as failing abjectly in living up to their own stated ideals (“land of the free” seems like a nastier joke every time I cross the border into the United States).

    What I really dislike is branding people according to a an easy label. Not all Christians are homophobes; not all male Jews are anti-women’s rights; not all followers of Islam would like to see the downfall of western nations like the United States; not all Americans are gun-toting, ignorant, right-wing bigots. In fact, I know of at least one American Muslim who voted for Trump (I still have a hard time reconciling that one).

    As usual, it’s a bit more complicated than simply labeling people “Muslim” or “religious” and saying “you’re the problem.” If you want people to stop hating and attacking you, you’ve either got to wipe them all out (the knee-jerk-moron-Trump reaction) because more will keep coming until you do; and retribution always breeds more conflict. Or understand the problem and address it in an intelligent manner that can be accepted by all parties. I don’t know about anybody else reading this, but I’ve yet to see an intelligent approach that looks like it might actually mitigate the situation, much less resolve it.

    • somer
      Posted June 4, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      firstly acknowledging that islam is the religion with far and away the largest number and majority of people with highly illiberal views in the world today and that it desperately needs reform and that denial of this is a problem

      • Posted June 5, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

        Well, I’d be perfectly willing to accept that, if there were any conclusive quantitative analysis of your assertions. From a subjective standpoint, your statements seem acceptable on face value, but then so do those of Michael Behe, until you check his data. I suppose one religion might lay claim to being “the most” of anything, but I wonder how much is due to the religion per se, as opposed to the interpretation of its word, by its followers?

        • GBJames
          Posted June 5, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

          “…due to the religion per se, as opposed to the interpretation of its word, by its followers.”

          Now there’s a difference without a distinction if I’ve ever seen one.

          • Posted June 5, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            Untrue. Any qualitative researcher – and I have both quantitative and qualitative experience – will tell you that the interpretation of the written word can be as distinct from person to person, as each person is different. Hence extremists and liberalists that follow the U.S., Constitution, and mainstream versus extreme followers of whatever religious scripture you want to look at… “an eye for an eye” does not have to be literal, unless you want it to be.

            • GBJames
              Posted June 5, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

              As a qualified researcher I would have expected you to recognize that religions are not books.

              Religions are collections of ideas about supernatural “stuff”, some of which map to words in books, and some of which doesn’t. But it is all just ideas in heads, or to use another word, “interpretations”. Religions don’t exist except in the form of “interpretations” in the minds of believers.

              Asserting that people cherry pick from religious texts or that they interpret bits of text differently is, to quote my dear old dad, “crashing through an open door”.

              • Posted June 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

                The point, given what was being said in absolutist terms about Islam (in particular), seemed like it needed to be made. What might be an open door to you or me, seems like it needs a bit of a signpost to some others.

      • Katkinkate
        Posted June 5, 2017 at 1:28 am | Permalink

        Reform will never stick if imposed from outside the islamic community. The moslems themselves have to want to reform their own religion/communities and convincing them will be near impossible because outsiders (read infidels) telling them what to do will be seen as interlopers and ‘crusaders’, ie. an enemy. People who feel they are being oppressed and victimised will usually pull tighter together and fight against the common enemy. Too much insistence on them moderating their beliefs and behaviour could result in the more liberal elements becoming more radical in the fight to protect their community.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 5, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink


    • Posted June 5, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Islam is unique among religions in that it is also a political, social & cultural ideology, and makes the expressed claim to the duty & right to bring the entire world under its theocracy and by force.

      • Posted June 5, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        And that would be one interpretation of its texts… that not all followers adhere to. The problem with religion as a whole is that it’s an irrational concept, that breeds extremism in those that are emotionally susceptible to that kind of thinking. Hence Martin Luther King and the KKK all claiming to follow essentially the same religion. Only something like religion, that appeals to vertain people on that level ever produces such a following. This time, and at this point in history, it’s Islam. A few hundred years ago, it was Christianity and The Crusades. Maybe one day the human race will outgrow this infantile failure to reason. Until then, we’re all going to continue killing each other because of it.

      • Posted June 5, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        It isn’t so unique – look at what Shinto is actually about and how it was (and sometimes still is) used by Japanese nationalists (and racists).

  18. Kevin
    Posted June 4, 2017 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    This is a most excellent analogy.

  19. jeffery
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Anyone who’s read the Koran, has read much history, and watches the news occasionally SHOULD be an “Islamaphobe!”

  20. Kingasaurus
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a “phobia’ an *irrational* fear of something?

    I don’t want to embrace the term “Islamophobe” because then I’m admitting to the narrative that I actually have nothing at all to fear from Islam, and that any fear I DO have is baseless.

    Showing reasoned disapproval of Islamic doctrines and their consequences isn’t being “phobic” about it.

    • Posted June 5, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      noun pho·bia \ˈfō-bē-ə\

      Definition of phobia
      : an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation

      Phobia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from

      Nope, you sound about right to me.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think you read far enough. MW also gives these phobia definitions:

        “intolerance or aversion for”


        “an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something”

        Aversion, dislike…they seem to fit the bill.

        • Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          Yes, out of the five or six listed definitions for various contexts, the example for “English language learners” (ELL) is the only one which does not include some measure of “exaggerated” or “unreasonable” fear.

          E.g., the contextual definition below ELL is as follows…

          Medical Definition of phobia
          : an exaggerated and often disabling fear usually inexplicable to the subject and having sometimes a logical but usually an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation—compare compulsion, obsession

          So, if you were an English language learner, you might consider that basic definition over a more nuanced alternative.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            Now, don’t be guilty of the quiet bigotry of low expectations. 😉

            Seriously, we need to remember that there are liberal, intelligent Muslims amongst the immigrants who may be glad to learn they have a substantial number of US allies in the effort to modernize and humanize radical Islam.

            • Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

              True, but MY fear is that such extremist individuals, will not prove amenable to “modernizing and humanizing” and thus, we play into the hands of fascists and those who would impose a police state in the guise of public safety.

              I live in Canada and cross the US border regularly, and see what I perceive as the thin end of that wedge developing all the time. I would very much like to be wrong.

              • Diane G.
                Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

                I hope I’m not engaging in “last-word-ism,” here (so go ahead and reply 😀 ), but the fascists, etc., are not really the target of the extreme-religion-is-awful message, and perhaps fearing to engage with them feeds right into their power trip.

                (Another strategy to consider for dealing with those seeking publicity through disruption is to completely ignore them.)

                I suspect the real answer, as it is for so many multi-sided messages, is that it takes different approaches to reach different groups of people.

              • Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                No I never imagined anybody in particular was a target, rather western nations, societies, and culture as a whole. However, I do see the obscenity-of-a-man currently occupying the US presidency as one of the by-products of the situation. And I fully expect Trump to make matters much worse before they get any better.

              • Diane G.
                Posted June 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

                “…the obscenity-of-a-man currently occupying the US presidency…”

                We have found common ground! 😀

  21. nicky
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    A bit on a tangent and inspired by the ‘confederate hijabs’, what about ‘cartoon hijabs’ (yes, the ‘Danish’ ones).
    Would that not be a real expression of liberty and feminism? At least it would be actually courageous, unlike the drab hijabs, celebrated by PuffHo and other Islam-smooching media.
    Of course, the distinction between courageous and suicidal is not very clear, especially when fundamentalist Islam gets involved.

  22. Posted June 6, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this and the question, Jerry. Here’s the original quote meme from my wife, Alishba:

  23. CJColucci
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Just this morning, I got on the bus with two neighbors of mine, a woman in a black hijab and her wheelchair-bound husband. I don’t know why she wears a hijab, though I think we can rule out the possibility that her husband would beat the crap out of her if she didn’t. In America, she is legally free to wear something else if she wants. Or to wear this if she wants. And that’s as it should be. As someone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, I have nothing to say about people dressing funny. I have no idea whether she just likes to wear it or whether she is under social pressures beyond the subtle and unavoidable. If she came to me for help, or I learned in some other reliable way that she wanted it, I would give it, but I would not presume to intervene based on guesswork.
    There are places where it would not be guesswork, and I am sad for people who have to wear them and don’t want to, but just as in the material world, so too in the moral world, prosperity is advanced by division of labor, and this is not something most of us should specialize in.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      “…though I think we can rule out the possibility that her husband would beat the crap out of her if she didn’t.”

      There are many kinds of abuse that are not physical. And it is not necessarily her husband who might respond negatively should she not wear it. Just sayin’…

      • CJColucci
        Posted June 7, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        That’s why the only possibility I ruled out was her wheelchair-bound husband physically beating her up.

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