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Apr 16 2013

New Hatetheism and Islamophobia

Onislam.net has picked up on the current Islamophobia bruhaha broiling through atheism and I figured it needs some clarification.

As I have said. islamophobia is the invalid fear of all Muslims rather than the genuine criticism of the actions of some Muslims and indeed Islam as a whole. So… Obama is a secret muslim = Islamophobia, Saudi Arabia’s bullshit attitude to women = Criticism.

Let’s get this straight. Most Muslims are sensible and peaceful in the west. There are a few bad eggs and unfortunately we would rather concentrate on them because “Muslim man goes down to shops” makes for terrible headlines when compared to “Muslim man kills daughter for wearing jeans“. We would rather see that as the behaviour of Muslims as a whole rather than the behaviour of a specific muslim whose fundamentalist faith led him to such a crime.

However Onislam thinks we don’t understand the faith because it is in “Latin”. Well? We have plenty of “Ex-Muslims” and some of us speak Arabic and have read the “good book”. In addition, English translations exist and while they may not have the original intention of the language of Arabic and may indeed end up being “Backstroked to the West” but we can understand the thing. Islam is not misunderstood, it’s adherents have done frankly maniacal things and the behaviour of some Muslims has been anti-thetical to the core values of human rights we have considered universal.

And these are not small minorities who have done this. Under the lash of Islam some pretty big Muslims have done some pretty horrible things.

“Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling,” read a recent article by Nathan Lean on the Salon website was cited by The Independent newspaper.

The practice of Muslim Immigration seems to be creating ghettoes of Islam. Islam’s inflexibility has meant that it doesn’t do amalgamation into culture. Both sides may throw up barriers but Muslims do make the barriers hard to break down.

Let’s consider the UK. The MAJORITY of muslims in the UK are British Asian. Now here is the funny thing. British Asian Muslims are some of the poorest people in the UK. They have the least education and high crime rates and low employment. They often simply lack the skills to be employed. By contrast British Asian Hindus have the HIGHEST education, income rates, employment rates and lowest crime rates. I know racists love saying “It’s genetics” but these two groups are essentially genetically identical. The only major difference being their faith’s flexibility. Hindus are more willing to adjust and trade aspects of their faith when challenged by reality. Hindus don’t believe that the Sun is Surya on his chariot, they believe it’s a ball of Nuclear Fire just like science says so. Islam isn’t so flexible. And it shows.

In addition? It’s the same issue as Hassidic Jews and Nerds. If you rule yourself out of the social norm you will be a pariah and form your own cliques with it’s own issues. And again, it’s separation and insularity results in people not willing to change outside the norm. The fact remains that often, many Muslim immigrants arrive in the UK and proceed to live in a little slice of “Muslim Land” and never really leave it to be part of mainstream culture. The few that do are derided as “not being really muslim” and are subject to the Crab Bucket or worse, pure ostracisation. It’s there amongst the Hindus too but to a lot lesser degree. I have Muslim friends, in retrospect I often saw their parents cripple their children’s chances by preventing them from socialising and promoting an insular culture.

As for the veil? The veil is a practice that exists in Hinduism too and my statement applies to both the Burkha, Hijab and the Purdah…

It’s a fucking oppressive pile of garbage that makes women invisible. It is an excuse to force women to hide from society to “Protect them from the Menz” when in reality the men they require protecting from are the ones keeping them indoors. It is the whips and chains of the mind and society that force women into obscurity. This practice must go. The defenders of it have no place in our society.

Different cultures have different values on the masks we wear. To the Halloween Costumer it’s in aid of the costume. To the Masquerader the masque is there to provide an air of mystery and anonymity to let one’s hair down repercussion free. To my ancestors it was a method of wearing the persona of the monsters we were feared to be. To the shaman of various cultures it is to borrow the strength and the qualities of beasts. And all of these are done not because it is essential but because it is of choice. These were not compulsory pieces of clothing.

Even when we discuss compulsory pieces of clothing like the facial hair of Islam and Sikhism or the turban or the bangle… these may not be choices but they do not make the wearer anonymous. The entire FUCKING point of the Burkha or the Niqab is to make it’s wearer anonymous and amorphous. A shadow in the world to go about and be ignored. To strip identity from women. It is designed to ostracise women from mainstream society. It makes it impossible for them to form bonds outside that of their families and the few women they know. It helps rule them out of the mainstream and it does affect communication and some of the jobs that they do.

“The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason,” he added.

If we look at it rationally then the evidence is goddamn clear. Islam has a “terrifuckingble” track record when it comes to integration into society and treatment of women. Based on intellect? Islam seems to cripple it’s adherents ability to gain education. Reason? There is no evidence for any gods let alone Allah and following it makes you no different from the Scientologists.

“Haven’t read Qur’an so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today,” the Cambridge evolutionary biologist wrote. The fact that the author of the God Delusion hadn not studied Islam’s holy book surprised many and led to a flurry of responses from both fans and critics alike.

It doesn’t matter if we have read or not read the Koran. It matters that you have. If you base your actions on what the Koran says then we will judge your actions by what our laws and our society says and if your actions are deemed to be unacceptable then it isn’t us who is intolerant. We judge you by the same rules that we follow.

If the actions of (Some) Muslims have included sexism, racism, homophobia, violence, terrorism, ignorance and insularity then that speaks volumes about your Koran considering these people use it as a crutch for these things.

Let’s take a group of people we call the Vogon. Let’s say that these people LOVE Bureaucracy and Terrible Poetry. When asked why they love it, they hold up a book and say that it’s because the “Big Book of Kafka” says so and they are adherents to it. Now you may not have read the “Big Book of Kafka” but judging by the behaviour of the Vogon, one can safely say the Big Book of Kafka is for Bureaucracy and Terrible Poetry and may even MANDATE multiple forms signed in duplicate and the use of the word “Verily” on a religious basis.

If your followers cannot take criticism and routinely attempt to subvert free speech through threatening those who speak out against them then what does it say about “the Koran”? If you have people who support fundamentalism even if they don’t participate in it directly, then what does it say about “the Koran” that inspires them? If you have people who defend the oppression of women then what does it say about the Koran which these people follow?

Though few atheists in the western world historically paid much attention to Islam, the new attacks by atheists were employing a past-9/11 hatred, flirting with Islamophobes and using an already deeply misunderstood and much maligned faith.

Actually? This is something of a problem with modern atheism. We never really listened to ex-Muslim atheists and even to this day a lot of Atheist “meet ups” and conventions are heavily dominated by a Judeo-Christian slant. So on the 11th of September when the USA was struck by Islamic Terrorism the backlash started LATE. People like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen suffered at the hands of such people sometimes for decades in relative silence with little mainstream support. If we ever discussed Islamic Terror we delved into it in the context of Israel vs. Palestine/Lebanon where the issue was tarnished by homeland/sectarian violence.

“The idea that Islam is a ‘peaceful religion hijacked by extremists’ is a fantasy, and is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge,” is just one he wrote in “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

It is a dangerous fantasy because there is a penchance for Islam to set up “Islamic States”. There is a running notion that such a state would be IDEAL. That there is no state better than it and I don’t know why. I assume the people assume it will be a second Ottoman Empire or a progressive Andalucian Moorish Kingdom or a new Lucknavi Caliphate or the Second rise of the Mughals rather than something terrible as we have noticed. The thing there was that the Ottomans and the Moors and Lucknow were pretty secular. The Mughals themselves self-destructed when they stopped being secular under Shah Jahan and started being “fundie” under Aurangzeb. And here is the reason why.

When you build ANY society on the canonical rules of religion then the fundamentalist is “King” as he is the “holiest”.

Harris also wrote in favor of torture, pre-emptive nuclear strikes and the profiling not just of Muslims but “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be a Muslim.”

And most of us don’t consider Harris’s stance to be sensible. Richard Reid proved that Muslims can be called Richard. We should check everyone really. Torture doesn’t work and pre-emptive nuclear strikes don’t work either. Sam Harris isn’t the only New Atheist out there and here is the thing.

His bullshit doesn’t excuse yours. The KKK’s bullshit doesn’t somehow excuse the Nation of Islam’s or the Black Panther’s extremism. The Islamophobia of the BNP and the KKK and the Tea Party and indeed Sam Fucking Harris does not mean Islam’s own issues get a free ride.

“[Harris’] sweeping generalizations about a constructed civilization encompassing over a billion people are coupled with fevered warnings – parallel with the most noxious race propaganda of the past – about the purported demographic threat posed by immigrant Muslim birthrates to Western civilization,” Murtaza Hussain, a Toronto based Middle East analyst, wrote in a scathing critique on Al Jazeera website recently.

I agree. That’s stupid. However we have seen parts of the UK where Muslim “self ghettoification” (where they gravitate to a single region to form enclaves of single faiths with high density) has led to issues such as “Shariah Law” gangs, abuse of non-muslim women, gang warfare and an entrenching of the notion that “leaving” this crab bucket is a good way to not be “proper”. Hell! We have even seen radical Islam take root in such enclaves and poison the minds of nice young muslim boys. Clearly there is a cancer within the Islamic community and indeed within Islam itself and it’s very hard to not notice that a lot of Muslims simply ignore this and don’t take an active role in destroying the reasons for such a toxic environment. Some of these Muslims may not take part in this “cancer” but they certainly wave a lot of flags for it.

The usage of Islamophobia can be to identify the racists who despise Muslims no matter what. It has also been used to label people who campaign for better treatment of Muslim Women. This is the easiest example of the problem.

“Citing “Muslims” as a solid monolith of violent evil – whilst neglecting to include the countless Muslims who have lost their lives peacefully protesting the occupation and ongoing ethnic cleansing of their homeland – Harris engages in a nuanced version of the same racism which his predecessors in scientific racism practiced in their discussion of the blanket characteristics of “Negroes”,” he added.

Countless? In the west? We haven’t shot up any “muslims” peacefully protesting the ethnic cleansings of their homelands. You mean Israel vs. Palestine? That’s a stupid plan and honestly we should dissolve both states and form a single one out of them and recompensate the Palestinians and try and forgive each other and move on.

But a more apt question is why are so many Muslims so silent about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? I mean Israel vs. Palestine is a problem of two people both having good claims to a piece of land, but the KSA’s excuse is what? The voices against fundie Islam from within mainstream Islam are very small. And the voices to eliminate harmful practices such as the Burkha, Hijab and Sharia Law are equally “small”. Why?

Because the fundies are the voice of Islam and if you cross them then you aren’t a “good muslim”.

“When criticism of religion morphs into an undue focus on Islam – particularly at the same time the western world has been engaged in a decade-long splurge of violence, aggression and human rights abuses against Muslims, justified by a sustained demonization campaign – then I find these objections to the New Atheists completely warranted,” Greenwald concludes.

And what would you do if your country suffered an attack on the scale of the Twin Towers attacks? I am against the War in Iraq. I think it was a stupid war. I was and still am in favour of the war in Afghanistan because we can do some serious good there.

However due to the war in Iraq we lost our chance.

And if we are to look at Iraq we would notice that a lot of the “human rights abuses” there are done by Muslims to each other for being the wrong sort of Muslim.

“In sum, [New Atheism] sprinkles intellectual atheism on top of the standard neocon, right-wing worldview of Muslims.”

Islam is the Muslim’s greatest enemy. It’s rigid dogma forces Muslims to often do things that are detrimental to themselves and to each other. The men and women who follow Islam are “nice”. Hell, let’s not forget that the Nazis didn’t spend all day surrounded by skulls. At no point did anyone who followed a “blind faith” ever question their actions and what repercussions they have. The Nazis loved and had children who  they loved just as heartily as we do. Yet they still did the horrid things that they did. Because blind faith makes one prone to being blind to the actual effect of their actions.

The people who worship Allah have similar dreams to what we do. They are the same people. If you prick them they bleed just as readily as they laugh if you tickle them. Even the most hardened Jihadi loves his mother.

But the difference is that their interpretation of Islam can poison them because of it’s rigidity and the fetishisation of the Jihadi. Because of the usage of Islamophobia to tar real and valid criticism of Islam as racism.

While Sam Harris and Dawkins may forget that Muslims are all different, Muslims often forget that within their midst lurks the deadly cancer of radicalisation and that due to the dogma of their faith, they won’t even realise it till it’s too late. The blade cuts both ways. Remember, the line through Islam isn’t Radical vs. Liberal but many shades of grey. Each issue has it’s own line in the sand.

The real enemy of Muslims is Islam itself.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin

    Ah. The Courtier’s Reply, alive and well, I see.

    Still, I would recommend that Dawkins quell the controversy and read the thing — it’s dreadful, but not impossible to slog through on a rainy weekend. Only about 77,000 words or so.

    The last Harry Potter book had 198,000+ words in it.

  2. 2
    Steven

    Great post. You are starting to become my favorite FTB blogger.

  3. 3
    smrnda

    I’m not really sure that atheists in general have such a negative impression of Muslims, though Harris’ remarks on torture and racial profiling and the Hitch’s support of the Iraq war probably give that impression. Overall though, it seems like every critique of Islam I run across comes with the caveat that ‘not all Muslims are like this.’ This is pretty common in the States since most atheists don’t want to fuel racism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment or lend support to US military occupations.

    In the States, most Muslims I’ve met have been fairly reasonable and even quite progressive politically, but I think a lot of that comes with their minority status. When you’re a minority, a permissive, liberal society is your friend since it keeps the majority from shitting and pissing all over you. Most of the critiques of Islam I’ve read or heard center on just what you talked about – secularism versus religious fundamentalism. Other religious can and would be just as bad if they got control of governments.

  4. 4
    One Brow

    One small quibble:

    “The KKK’s bullshit doesn’t somehow excuse the Nation of Islam’s or the Black Panther’s extremism.”

    The Black Panthers don’t exist anymore. There is a group that call themselves the New Black Panther Party. As far as I know, none of the original Black Panthers are or were members of the NBPP, and some original Black Panthers have condemned them. The NBPP is extreme in the way you indicate, the original Black Panthers were much less so.

  5. 5
    Stacy

    One Brow beat me to it. There was a concerted effort to portray the Black Panthers as violent extremists. They mostly weren’t. They weren’t all angels, but compared to the systemic violence directed at them and the people they organized to protect, they were pretty darn reasonable.

  6. 6
    martin waddington

    Great post. Succinct and pretty accurate in every detail.

    I have a tenant at the moment who is from KSA, but who is here studying Engineering at a UK university. I asked him what he missed most about his home, and what he disliked most about it. His answer to both questions was: ‘the system’. Go figure. As he came from a privileged background (his uncle I believe is one of the countless ‘Princes’) I presume he meant family connections and the whole interweaving with Islam. He’s a nice person, intelligent, with some thoughtful comments on life in the West. One of the things he had observed in the UK which left him horror-struck was our general disrespect for and neglect of the elderly. But I find it fascinating that he (as do we all) can compartmentalise our thinking regarding our place within the civilisations we inhabit. We are all complicit and complaisant in one way or another.

  7. 7
    Raging Bee

    …Muslims often forget that within their midst lurks the deadly cancer of radicalisation and that due to the dogma of their faith, they won’t even realise it till it’s too late.

    The cancer is not “radicalization,” it’s a political culture of irresponsibility; and it’s not caused by their religion, it’s caused by a really bad and unlucky confluence of circumstances, and exacerbated by some tragically incompetent responses to circumstances in the past.

    We saw a similar culture of irresponsibility in Germany in the 1930s, and we’re seeing it here in the USA today. Twisted religious doctrines can contribute to this sick political culture, but they’re also a symptom of it.

    I have no problem with criticizing Islam, but let’s at least try our best to be intelligent and honest about it, instead of letting the fascists and their patsies dominate the debate.

  8. 8
    maudell

    This problem with criticism of practices justified by Islam bothers me. Obviously, some atheists are racists, and we all hold prejudices on one form or another. But I am deeply disturbed by other feminists decrying my support for the respect for the rights of all human beings, including women, to be racist.

    I see irony here. The counter-argument, that promoting Muslim women’s basic rights is imperialist and colonial in nature, can also be viewed as racist. In other words, saying that human rights should be reserved to white people is… Dehumanizing. Somehow, Muslim women don’t deserve this respect, because “they’re not like us”. And it’s arrogant for us to assume that stoning women under suspicion of promiscuity cannot be a great thing. Who’s really racist here?

    It really disgusts me. They need to stop listening to Tariq Ramadan for a second.

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