Those who are wanted by their countries of origin »« Free Hamza Kashgari

Moderation and tolerance

Someone called Daisy Khan* had a really fatuous piece at Comment is Free on Thursday about “Islamophobia” in the US.

She started by making the issue entirely one of terrorist violence. There isn’t much, she said. Therefore, no issue.

But terrorist violence is not the only issue. It’s much more complicated than that. There is also the issue of women’s rights, and the issue of gay rights, and the matter of apostasy, and then there’s blasphemy. You’d never know any of that mattered from reading Daisy Khan.

Our allies in the interfaith and civil rights communities are working to counteract the fabricated opposition to Islam that is gaining strength in America today.

To counteract opposition to Islam? Really? We’re not allowed to oppose Islam? At the beginning of the piece, Khan talked about demonization of Muslims, which is another matter – but here at the end the problem becomes opposition to Islam. Opposition to Islam is itself a civil right, and one that millions of people around the world don’t have – like Hamza Kashgari for example. (He doesn’t even have the right to make a questioning comment about Mo, let alone oppose Islam.)

We are allowed to oppose Islam, and there are reasons to oppose it. What happened to Hamza Kashgari today is one such reason: one “Muslim country” summarily extradited him to another “Muslim country” which he had fled to escape being executed for “blasphemy.”

You’d never think that kind of thing was possible from reading Daisy Khan.

We know that the bulk of the American public recognises the truth of Islamic moderation and tolerance.

The what? The truth of what? The truth of Islamic what?

If there is a truth that Islam is noteworthy for moderation and tolerance, then why the fuck did Malaysia extradite Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia under arrest for “blasphemy” for saying he questioned Mohammed in some things? What, exactly, does that have to do with moderation and tolerance? How dare Daisy Khan talk about “the truth of Islamic moderation and tolerance”?

H/t Eric.

*By which I meant only that I didn’t know who she is, and possibly should have. I meant it as a sort of signal not to expect me to know who she is…probably in case I made any stupid assumptions about her.

Comments

  1. GordonWillis says

    the threat posed to US national security by the radicalisation of its Muslim community is minuscule.

    In fact, if we are talking about the radicalisation of a community, the threat is enormous. But of course, that isn’t what she meant, is it? so the stupid women has misled her readers from the start. What she was trying to say is that the Islamic community isn’t being radicalised, and there is no threat that it will be. Of course, what she really wants to say is that muslims are nice, really, and don’t believe in a supernal bigwig who at second hand dictated to a very unpleasant and venal man a book which solemnly, portentously, repetitiously and tediously espouses slavery, cruelty, hatred, stupidity and ignorance, and so anyone who worries about it is irrational and hate-mongering and bigoted. So there. QED.

  2. Alverant says

    Good post. My main question is how we separate legitimate criticism of islam from the mindless islam bashing from intolerant folk who sees every muslim as a terrorist. I don’t want to defend islam but when people talk about nuking all the -istans and deporting anyone who goes to a mosque I want to fight against that.

  3. Alverant says

    GordonWillis in the past 10 years which religion has members who committed more actual terrorist acts, islam of christianity? The answer is christianity. From flying a plane into an IRS building in Texas to beating death of homosexuals and leaving them to die on the road to burning down a woman’s clinic as a gift to Jesus, and more. At this point it’s the radical christians that are the bigger threat to the US than radical muslims. At least no radical muslims are running for the highest office in the land.

  4. says

    Someone called Daisy Khan …

    Unless that reference was tongue in cheek, Ophelia, Daisy Khan is the wife of Feisal Abdul Rauf, and the couple were at the center of the controversy over the mosque, a.k.a. Islamic Community Center, two blocks from Ground Zero, New York.

    Mr. Rauf has this to say on the law that aims to behead Hamza Kashgari:

    In the Muslim world, when someone has a grievance and says, “There ought to be a law!” they know that there is one. All the law that a Muslim needs is in the Qur’an and the Hadith, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad…

    … I tell them that the Muslim approach to law and justice begins with religious language because secular movements have failed to deliver what Muslims want – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [emphasis mine]

  5. GordonWillis says

    “commonality of Western and Islamic values”? Tell that to the daughter you are about to murder for having a new number on her cellphone.

  6. says

    David Amies: Eric and Ophelia will tell you that even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence. According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.

  7. GordonWillis says

    Don’t be so bloody stupid, Joe. The issue is belief and custom, and how it affects people’s lives. If you leave aside the label “muslim” and look simply at people, they have aspirations in their lives. When you insist on the label “muslim” you make everything confused. “Muslim”, like “Christian”, means a subscriber to a set of doctrines and beliefs. It’s the doctrines and beliefs that are the problem, because they cannot be reconciled with Western values. Their whole principle is submission to the will of a being who has dictated various commands. It’s not about freedom of conscience.

  8. says

    GordonWillis, if you press my parents they would say ‘Catholic’, yet they’ve not gone into a church in close to 30 years. I hate religion as much as anyone here, and I’m a lifelong atheist, but I’ve learned over time that there are gradients to religion… all negative, but not all equally bad.

    All you have to do is compare the recent actions of the Catholic church over contraceptives to the poll results of actual Catholics. Most Catholics reject the Church on major political issues like contraceptives and abortion. Why would Muslims be magically different, besides some bigoted claim that Muslims cannot reject aspects of their faith the way Catholics do each and every day.

  9. mirax says

    >>Eric and Ophelia will tell you that even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence. According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.<<

    I have been reading Ophelia for years and that is an outright and outrageous lie. You are an ass.

  10. says

    mirax… that’s how I read it. Maybe not how you read it, but Ophelia has rejected the entire notion of anti-Muslim bigotry so I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to see it.

  11. GordonWillis says

    Why would Muslims be magically different, besides some bigoted claim that Muslims cannot reject aspects of their faith the way Catholics do each and every day.

    There is no such bigoted claim. People change their minds every day. But we have to address the problem caused by people who insist on their brand of truth, to the destruction of everyone else’s lives and happiness. And that problem goes to the heart of belief. It isn’t going to go away just because we’re oh so tolerant of people who want to behead someone who changes his mind.

  12. Upright Ape says

    Joe, I don’t know what you have been smoking, but how many Muslim organizations have condemned the persecution of Hamza Kashgari?
    Comparing Islam to Catholicism is equally delusional. Catholicism has many problems but it doesn’t claim that the scripture is literally true. Denying the literal truth of the Koran is punishable with death in many Islamic nations.
    Not all Muslims support violence. So? It means they are not all taking the teachings of their religion as seriously as a “good” Muslim should. It has nothing to do with whether Islam by its nature is violent or not.
    And before you start an “islamophobia” rant, how many years did you have to study the Koran and other Islamic texts and take exams on those subjects? For me the number is 20. Please don’t tell me you know more about the subject than I do.

  13. GordonWillis says

    Ophelia has rejected the entire notion of anti-Muslim bigotry

    You go too far. But the difficulty is that every time a voice is raised against Islam and its odious absurdities, there will be some idiot or catspaw ready to shout “bigotry”. Alverant has already been vocal about how unjustly we criticise Islam when Christianity is as bad or worse. But no one has ever called me a bigot for attacking the manifest evils of Christianity and the duplicity of priests and bishops and popes. Why should Islam be somehow more untouchable? Why should it become “anti-muslim bigotry” because one complains about the manifest cruelties of individual muslims, or muslim imams, or muslim governments?

  14. Upright Ape says

    “David Amies: Eric and Ophelia will tell you that even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence. According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.”
    “mirax… that’s how I read it. Maybe not how you read it, but Ophelia has rejected the entire notion of anti-Muslim bigotry so I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to see it.”
    Since you make such sweeping claims without bothering with evidence, and since name-calling seems to be quite in fashion these days (anyone who disagrees with you is a “bigot”), I see no reason not to add my voice to the chorus.
    You are a troll and an asshole, and Ophelia should ban you from this blog. Take your advocacy for extremism elsewhere.
    And “I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to see it.”

  15. GordonWillis says

    I cannot second this. Joe is a good bloke, even if he’s wrong on this matter. B&W would not be the same without him.

  16. Saikat Biswas says

    @13 : mirax… that’s how I read it

    Reading comprehension is what you lack spectacularly. Go work on it.

  17. says

    Thanks Gordon…

    … I don’t thing Eric or Ophelia are bad people, but I think they are both tragically wrong on this issue.

    I’l take it back. I don’t think you’re actually bigots. Ophelia, I don’t really think you’re a bigot, and I don’t think Eric is a bigot. I think you are both really, really, really wrong on this issue. I really wish I could talk you out of your position on this issue. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to do it, even though I’m the smartest person I know. i’d give anything to convince you of my position… literally, if you want to make a wager.

    I just feel like there’s a double standard here, where we accept that most Christians and Catholics are wrong-but-mean-well, and Muslims are wrong-but-mean-ill.

  18. GordonWillis says

    where we accept that most Christians and Catholics are wrong-but-mean-well, and Muslims are wrong-but-mean-ill.

    But I really don’t think that we do. I at least do not. I put Christianity and Islam into the same basket. I think that perhaps the real difficulty may be to do with the relative newness of Islam, and that no one wants to seem unwelcoming to newcomers, some of whom at least may even be fleeing from injustice in their home countries. But we do have to engage the beliefs, and the threats they pose to democracy, to women, and to freedom of expression, just as we do with the demands of good old familiar Christianity.

  19. mirax says

    She objects strongly to use of the term “islamophobia” as do I as self-declared islamophobe but has acknowledged many times that muslims face prejudice in the west (and I would add in the east, because I live out here in the far east and I know what Thais, Filipinos, the Chinese etc think of Islam and what prejudice the malay-muslim minority in my country faces). You really are lying outrageously and ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    I am an islamophobe because I despise the effects of theocratic islam on people and societies,and NOT because I hate muslims. I really, really have no worries about being confused with racists. The muslims who dine at my table or have been offered refuge in my house or receive my money and pro bono services know the difference.

  20. says

    @Gordon

    we do have to engage the beliefs, and the threats they pose to democracy, to women, and to freedom of expression

    Yes, we do need to do those things. But I live in America, and the Catholics posed a major threat to the President’s plan to extend birth control coverage to all insurance plans… and as soon as someone can show me where Muslims can swing that kind of power in America, I’ll take the Muslim threat seriously.

  21. GordonWillis says

    Eric fights against a religious establishment which seeks to deprive the dying of all dignity. The establishment says the opposite, but they are as wrong as the bishop who would rather let a woman and her foetus both die than abort the foetus and save the woman. I see no difference in principle with a muslim “community leader” who believes in death for apostates or men who try to turn London streets into a Sharia state. There really isn’t any difference, because it comes from the same notion of god’s will for humanity, an all-encompassing will that would deprive us of liberty and even of life in pursuit of a never-never land of strictly incomprehensible and absolutely meaningless bliss for — note — the chosen. It is all utterly sick and insane, and whoever makes these ludicrous claims, I will continue to say so.

  22. GordonWillis says

    and as soon as someone can show me where Muslims can swing that kind of power in America, I’ll take the Muslim threat seriously.

    Well, that’s what Daisy Khan is saying, and I’ve already replied. As to the USA, Islam has not yet gained as firm a foothold in the States as Chritianity, but what will happen when it does? You talk about Christian power now, but Muslims have many similar beliefs, and are just as firm in their conviction that god, and god alone, should rule (which is to say, the priests and imams who interpret his will). You have to defend your constitution from corruption by all religions, and especially the most determined.

  23. GordonWillis says

    but when they say the opposite, do you call them liars?

    When who says the opposite? The ones who make ludicrous claims?

  24. GordonWillis says

    Oh, I see. You’re referring to

    The establishment says the opposite, but they are as wrong as the bishop who would rather let a woman and her foetus both die than abort the foetus and save the woman.

    I don’t need to call them liars, only benighted, blind and arrogant. But it comes to the same thing as saying, they have ludicrous beliefs.

  25. says

    I’l take it back. I don’t think you’re actually bigots. Ophelia, I don’t really think you’re a bigot, and I don’t think Eric is a bigot.

    As you should. I don’t know why you lost your cool and said something so inflammatory as that in the first place.

  26. GordonWillis says

    And I am falling out of my chair. It’s been tomorrow here for six hours, and nearly time to get up, so I’m going to bed. Sleep well, all.

  27. says

    It’s OK, Improbably Joe. I think I took your statement too forcefully and then missed you taking it back on the first skim of the comments. (sorry! I should have kept my mouth shut.)

  28. Bruce Gorton says

    Improbable Joe

    mirax… that’s how I read it. Maybe not how you read it, but Ophelia has rejected the entire notion of anti-Muslim bigotry so I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to see it.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been-an-islamophobe/

    SC – yes the term captures real attitudes and behavior, but it’s still the wrong term for them.

    What’s that? Ophelia actually says the exact opposite to what you claim she says? Why, it is almost like you are a lying piece of shit Joe.

    Well, no, actually it isn’t almost like, it is exactly like. You are a lying piece of shit Joe.

  29. says

    Erm, I meant Improbable Joe, of course.

    Why would Muslims be magically different, besides some bigoted claim that Muslims cannot reject aspects of their faith the way Catholics do each and every day.

    By the way, doesn’t the fact that Ophelia is posting about a Muslim man who did reject dogmatic aspects of his faith only to be deported for possible execution kind of contradict that point?

  30. says

    @Aratina Cage:

    Nope, I SAID my first statement too forcefully. I was a bit of an asshole, and I’m sorry to Eric and Ophelia. I’ve got a point in there that I agree with, and that I meant, but my disagreement with them both doesn’t mean I think poorly of them. I’m convinced that they are wrong, but I’m being a fool if I have to insult them to get there.

  31. Josh Slocum says

    Made a mistake, that’s all.

    No. You revealed something, perhaps unintentionally, it’s deeply disturbing. Something very wrong is going on with your thinking (or your amygdala) that you could even conceive of Ophelia and Eric as people who think the only good muslim is a dead muslim, let alone say it in public.

    What you said was so obscene given the people you were talking about that I look at you fundamentally differently than I did yesterday. You’re a vastly different person than I thought you were, and much uglier.

  32. Josh Slocum says

    Um, yeah, but no. You didn’t take Joe’s statement “too forcefully” Aratina- it was disgusting. And no, his backing off doesn’t magic away that he actually said Ophelia and Eric think the only good muslim is a dead muslim.

    That is the perfect embodiment of the argument Ophelia makes (and that I endorse): it is nigh on impossible for otherwise reasonable people to discriminate between criticizing and objecting to anti-humanistic theocratic Islam, and being an anti-muslim bigot. You’re soaking in it so fucking deep you actually said Eric and Ophelia want muslims dead.

    Folks, you’re being way, way, way too forgiving. Joe has a boatload of explaining to do (after spending some quality time thinking about the vile shit that came out of his mouth and why) before he’s anywhere near “good bloke” and benefit of the doubt status. Sorry.

  33. John Morales says

    Improbable Joe:

    GordonWillis, if you press my parents they would say ‘Catholic’, yet they’ve not gone into a church in close to 30 years. I hate religion as much as anyone here, and I’m a lifelong atheist, but I’ve learned over time that there are gradients to religion… all negative, but not all equally bad.

    I guess by your standards I can call truthfully call myself a Catholic though I don’t believe in any of the claims the religion makes — after all, I have been baptised (and was an altar-boy for several years).

    (I’m at the end of your gradient)

    All you have to do is compare the recent actions of the Catholic church over contraceptives to the poll results of actual Catholics. Most Catholics reject the Church on major political issues like contraceptives and abortion. Why would Muslims be magically different, besides some bigoted claim that Muslims cannot reject aspects of their faith the way Catholics do each and every day.

    So, basically, your claim is that most religious people should not be assumed to follow the tenets of their religion, because they’re hypocrites?

    PS I very much suspect that most Catholics, were you to ask them, would claim issues like contraceptives and abortion are moral issues rather than to political issues.

  34. Marshall says

    Joe, I think you’re making the mistake of not properly distinguishing between Muslims and Islam, in much the same way that people fail to distinguish between Christians and Christianity and assume an attack on Christianity is the same as an attack on Christians. At least I hope that’s what it is. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt because you’ve seemed like a reasonable enough person elsewhere on FtB, so it actually surprises me that you would think this way on this particular issue. So I guess I’ll just ask; what, exactly, do you take issue with in this post?

  35. Egbert says

    The ideals of moderation and tolerance are deeply flawed, and they’ve been misused to actually oppress and decrease liberty by so-called liberals, socialists and other apologists and propagandists.

    The Guardian in particular, thinks “comment is free” means it’s okay for propagandists to misuse its media for their destructive illiberal campaigns. this is grossly irresponsible journalism.

  36. Svlad Cjelli says

    “I just feel like there’s a double standard here, where we accept that most Christians and Catholics are wrong-but-mean-well, and Muslims are wrong-but-mean-ill.”

    Perhaps this is the case, I’m fairly oblivious. But I certainly don’t think that christians are better than muslims.

  37. John says

    Wouldn’t you just kow that CIF would invites someone to post a piece who has been thoroughly discredfited in the U.S.

    The silly neologism “islamophobia” is just a lame attempt to portray any and all criticsm of islam, no matter how precise, honest and justified, as a form of bigotry.

    It is an attempt to stiffle free and honest speech.

    Daisy Khan wants to transform telling the ‘Truth’ as pertains to islam into a form of racism.

    Daisy Khan ( and many others) realise they’re selling an extremely defective and shoddy product, Islam, and that the only way to do so is not to let the truth about their product see the light of day.

    Her husband is a New York City slumlord against whom there are several lawsuits pending for various infractions of numerous lawspertaining to rental propertiers and whatnot.

  38. says

    Re the article – the commentary was fairly hostile and derisive. Not even The Guardian readers can swallow such clap-trap.

  39. says

    Daisy Khan says Our allies in the interfaith and civil rights communities are working to counteract the fabricated opposition to Islam that is gaining strength in America today. Ophelia responds with the central point shared by Eric that We are allowed to oppose Islam, and there are reasons to oppose it. Against this, Improbable Joe is concerned about targeting muslims as a greater danger than other religious wingnuts and pleads I think you are both really, really, really wrong on this issue.

    But IJ, they’re not wrong at all. Their concern that Islam itself is qualitatively different to various mainstream liberal religions is borne out by fact.

    Go ahead and ask a muslim what constitutes the difference between a good and bad muslim. The one consistent answer I’ve received dozens and dozens of times is how well the person adheres to the Qur’an, which, I’ve been told by every single muslim is to be considered the perfect word of god. Because of the Doctrine of Abrogation, (al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh) Surah 9:5 (the Verse of the Sword) matters (fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem). This abrogates all the earlier verses that present Islam to be a religion of peace.

    But does it really? Do muslims themselves abrogate their peaceful views about personal rights and freedoms and dignity of personhood? This is where we find a shocking difference between christians of mainstream denominations and muslims: over a third of British born, British raised, affluent, well educated muslims agree that killing in defense of their faith is justified. You simply will not find any numerical equivalency from any other mainstream christian denomination. That’s why we need to treat Islam as a much greater danger: not because we are bigots but because Islam IS a much greater danger in comparison. Extremism has a much more volatile and numerically larger base from the ranks of muslims than is comparable from other main christian denominations. Pretending otherwise in the name of toleration is stupid and shortsighted and endangers all who value secular enlightenment values of rights, freedoms, and the dignity of personhood in law.

  40. says

    Joe – you didn’t just “make a mistake.” You need to do a hell of a lot better job of apologizing than that. You said I want all Muslims dead. You said the same about Eric. You don’t get to shrug that off with “Made a mistake, that’s all.”

  41. Kevin says

    Well, I think Improbable Joe doesn’t know the definition of bigot, in the first instance.

    In the second instance, Islam is different from other religions in its demands of total submission (that’s its name) to religious authority. And its complete willingness to engage in violence to achieve those ends.

    Yes, you see Christian pickets at abortion clinics. No, you don’t see mobs of Christian men drown out a moderate Christian who wrote a book.

    Yes, the very occasional disturbed and depraved individual Christian will engage in acts of violence. We know their names — Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh.

    A tu quoque argument does not work. It’s false equivalence.

    No, the Christian religion does not have the support of any government to act violently against members of its own religion with government support. Aside from Ireland’s all-inclusive (and widely ignored) blasphemy laws, there is little call for punishment of the non-faithful in modern Western civilization. And certainly no potentially lethal extradition of a peaceful Christian who merely questions some of the acts of Jesus — like his killing of a fig tree, for example.

    Since the Inquisition and Calvin’s Geneva fell out of favor, it’s very hard to find the Christian religion being defended with the point of a sword and with the complicity of nations. Not so with Islam.

    It’s not bigotry to accurately identify aspects of a group that have negative consequences for society at large and half of the members of their own group — in this case, women.

    And within the larger context, the accusation of bigotry is one that Islamists raise in order to stifle debate. It’s a canard created by them in order that their anti-civilized behaviors and ideology not be put to the test. It’s nothing more than an attempt to shame someone into shutting up.

    No. I won’t shut up. Islam is a religion of hate, it is anti-woman, anti-free thought, anti-civilization. The world would be far better off without it … and every other religion.

  42. says

    Here’s one way Joe’s thinking goes wrong:

    @23 –

    I live in America, and the Catholics posed a major threat to the President’s plan to extend birth control coverage to all insurance plans… and as soon as someone can show me where Muslims can swing that kind of power in America, I’ll take the Muslim threat seriously.

    America isn’t all there is, and threats to legislation aren’t all there is.

    And furthermore – talk about lumping believers in with their religion! – it wasn’t “the Catholics” who posed a threat to insurance for birth control, it was the bishops – the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Under 200 guys. Not “the Catholics.” Oddly enough, I, the “bigot,” know better than to say it was “the Catholics,” but deeply-concerned bigot-spotting Joe doesn’t.

  43. April says

    As a casual reader, but not commenter, my opinion probably doesn’t have much sway. But I really don’t like it when articles start out with “Someone called”. I get that you disagree with the person. But immediately being dismissive of who they are, rather than the substance of their argument is a pretty low argument tactic. It signals to your audience that they shouldn’t take this person seriously and understand the argument since the person is of know consequence. I mostly only read feminist blogs and I don’t see this statement very often, but it’s pretty common in other segments of the blogosphere (especially as a way to put down women, GLBT, people of color and other underrepresented views).

  44. John says

    I mostly only read feminist blogs and I don’t see this statement very often, but it’s pretty common in other segments of the blogosphere (especially as a way to put down women, GLBT, people of color and other underrepresented views).

    I don’t think referring to Daisy Khan as “someone called” is in anywhay a put down.

    Daisy khan is basically an unkown person.

    She has no real academic qualifications. She is not a university prof. or a departement head, She is not a sociologist. She is not an elected politician or public official. She is not a member of a hate crimes investigation unit, and she has no journalistic credentials to speak of.

    She is no expert on anything, and so what does that make her?

    That makes her “someone called” Daisy Khan.

  45. April says

    @John: I usually see that referred to as “Daisy Khan, who writes for Y blog”, or “Daisy Khan, head of American Society for Muslim Advancement, has a piece at Y blog” with a link to the blog or the author page. Neither of those intimate that this person is inconsequential and should be dismissed.

  46. John says

    I usually see that referred to as “Daisy Khan, who writes for Y blog”,

    Writing a blog doesn’t necessarily make you someone who should be listened to.

    There are probably 3 or 4 hundred million blogs on the web.

    Daisy Khan is basically a nobody, with no real public profile, and with no tangible qualifications in any specific field of human endevour.

    She emerged from the shadows for no other reason than that her ( now) famous husband attempted to construct an islamic centre at Ground Zero as a gesture of “reconciliation”.

    So she definately remains a “someone called”.

  47. says

    April – Yes, I know what you mean. I meant it just to signal that I don’t know who she is – and that I possibly should know. Sure enough: Shaker Srinavasan @5 confirmed that I should know. I didn’t follow the mosque fuss very closely (should have; never got around to it).

    That was all I meant but I agree with you that it has that snide implication, which I didn’t intend. I’ll add a disavowal.

  48. April says

    I never said that having a blog means you should be listened to. I said said it was a neutral way to refer to a person. Also, I think it’s interesting that you say she has no public profile when she is a higher-up and co-founder of two institutes that, as a former secular public policy activist, I certainly knew about. And that you attribute all of her public standing to her husband.

    I wonder if you would say such things if the woman in question was white and secular. But mostly the white part.

  49. says

    I suppose I have used it with some of the snide implication in the past. I think I used it of Be Scofield the first time I encountered him. I suppose it implied a certain holding between thumb and forefinger with an air of disdain “who is this?” kind of thing. But not necessarily “who is this nobody?” More like “who is this fresh entrant in the atheist-bashing contest?”

    I expect it wouldn’t occur to me to use if of someone who wrote well, even if I disagreed. It occurs to me to use it with people who write crudely (that I’m not already familiar with). “Someone unskilled at writing or thinking called ___” is the implication, I think.

    Rhetoric is interesting.

  50. says

    Yes, you see Christian pickets at abortion clinics. No, you don’t see mobs of Christian men drown out a moderate Christian who wrote a book. –Kevin

    That is just plain hogwash. Jerry Prevo has used that tactic at every single Anchorage Assembly meeting where it has come up to kill bills that would stop prejudice against sexual orientation in the workplace, bussing in hatemongers from out of town to drown out all pro-gay voices. A past mayor of Anchorage (Wuerch) once sent a mob of his goons to take down an LGBT history display at the public library. The LGBT people and their supporters whose voices were drowned out were not all atheists–most were Christians. Some Christian men in the USA are every bit as bad as the Muslim men you are comparing them to in the UK.

  51. says

    Islam is a religion of hate, it is anti-woman, anti-free thought, anti-civilization.

    So is Christianity. There isn’t any significant difference between them.

  52. April says

    @Ophelia-
    I can definitely see that. It’s just something that in the past, even when I end up agreeing with everything you’ve said, has caused a red flag in my head. And it’s not really something I thought about much until a discussion on a feminist blog I read regularly where the author had a similar tag applied to her by another site. Certainly different people read a statement like “Someone called…” in different ways. Rhetoric is indeed interesting.

  53. Upright Ape says

    Joe’s stupidity and asshole-ness stems to a great extent from ego-centrism: if Islam is not a problem in the US (a point I mostly agree with ), then Islam is no problem at all. And then somehow this justifies all kinds of lies including accusing Ophelia of hating all Muslims. For crying out loud, sge is supporting a practicing Muslim, Hamza Kashgari.
    Seriously Joe you need to see your psychiatrist.

  54. John says

    I wonder if you would say such things if the woman in question was white and secular. But mostly the white part.

    Well she could always use one of those products that lighten skin tone, but I doubt it’d make her any brighter.

    Daisy’s status as “someone called” is directly related to her dishonesty, her lack of intelligence and of academic credentials

    So is Christianity. There isn’t any significant difference between them

    Yeah, that’s why the pope is up to his neck in freshly minted death fatwas.

    I don’t meean to defend Christianity, but honestly…

  55. says

    Even in the US it’s not true that Islam is not a problem at all. It is true (as far as I know) that it’s not much of a security problem (although as I say that I remember how little I really do know about that…), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem to a good many people forced to live by its rules. There have been “honor” murders here, there have been forced marriages here; there is bound to be a lot of milder but still intrusive pressure on girls, women, gays, apostates, etc.

    In other words a problem for the country as a whole is not the same thing as a problem for individuals born into the system.

  56. Alverant says

    #63
    The problem is that same paragraph works just as well if you replace “islam” with “christianity”. Sure the press may not call it “honor” murders but there are still christians who kill their wives and/or children for bringing discrace to their family. It just gets white washed by the press to avoid making christianity look bad. And there are still forced marriages by christians in the USA, but since Mittens started looking like the lead canidate we haven’t heard as much about them.

    Now world wide, the problem is far worse in islam, but the fact is still christianity overall still gets a pass or at least receives less than perportional criticism for its terrorists. For example in January a christian burned down a women’s clinic as a New Year’s present to Jesus. Two weeks later a muslim is caught planning an attack. Guess which one got national press and which one got support from the community.

    That’s right, the actual terror attack got praise while the potential one got calls of “deport them all”. I don’t mind giving islam grief as long as it’s deserved, doesn’t go overboard, and we don’t act like christianity deserves a fair amount of grief too.

  57. John Horstman says

    @3: Not to mention pursuing policies of forced pregnancy, ‘exorcism’ deaths, an AIDS-as-genocide campaign in Africa, beatings and occasional deaths of children due to Biblical corporal punishment mandates, an international, decades-old (at least) child-rape conspiracy, and (some successful) attempts to legalize sometimes-fatal bullying of non-conforming children in schools (and even to protect the bullies from any legal retribution). The Catholic Church is DEFINITELY more of a terrorist organization than e.g. al-Qaeda, at least in terms of attacking people in the USA; other Christian churches are more debatable. The main differences I see between Christianity and Islam is that the Islamic death threats tend to be a bit more specific/personal, while the Christian acts of murder are targeted at general archetypes which any random individual may be seen as fitting. In that sense, Christianity is more of a threat – at least when some asshole Imam calls for someone’s death, everyone knows who’s being targeted and can take protective actions, while anyone and everyone working at a medical clinic that offers abortion services has to be constantly on-guard.

  58. GordonWillis says

    I don’t mind giving islam grief as long as it’s deserved, doesn’t go overboard, and we don’t act like christianity deserves a fair amount of grief too.

    Look, Alverant, whom are you you talking to? We here criticise religion, ALL religion, and we criticise the press, and everybody who gives religion a free pass. So please don’t come here and tell us that that X, Y and Z are attacking Islam but letting Christianity get away with murder. Go and tell the Guardian and the Washington Post. This is where Joe is going wrong, too. After all the work done by Ophelia and her contributors here to drag the evils of Christianity into real daylight it’s so annoying to be told, as soon as we turn our sights on Islam, that we don’t do what we have been doing and attacked for doing over and over again.

  59. GordonWillis says

    mirax: You really are lying outrageously and ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    I really don’t think this is right. Joe isn’t lying, he’s telling the truth as he sees it. Joe’s style — his approach to emotional things — is hyperbole writ large, so it comes out this way. He’s wrong, but he isn’t “lying”. He is transmitting, in his characteristically extreme way, what is in fact a lie, but in this he is like all “believers”: he thinks it’s true. Given that every single one of us is prone to exactly this tendency, I think that we ought to be very careful before we start lashing out with accusations. It’s not what we’re about. We’re trying to be rational mammals here. We criticise beliefs because we know how prone we are to believe. We try to elucidate confusion because we have learnt how easy it is to become confused. And all our learning is not proof against the fact, so we need to help each other to remember. There’s no god, just us, so we have only each other.

  60. says

    Gordon, he has no right to see the truth that way. There is nothing to see that would cause anyone to agree that “Eric and Ophelia will tell you that even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence. According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.”

    That last item is a really vicious accusation and there is nothing that would back it up. It pretty much is a lie, since it says that both Eric and I have actually said “there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.” I’ve never said anything remotely resembling that. (I don’t believe Eric has either, but I can’t speak for him.)

    Joe is definitely persona non grata as far as I’m concerned.

  61. Aratina Cage says

    I have a post on this thread that didn’t go through (I think I know why, I used the L-word out of old habit). But it isn’t necessary at any rate. I stand by what I said about Christianity being just as terrible as Islam as a religion. That many Christians all of you know aren’t out there killing people or terrorizing people with religious zeal is a coincidence of the way human history unfolded. But then, look at how Christians in the USA and elsewhere (especially Uganda) treat LGBT people as subhumans and have no qualms about queer bashing and murder. Both religions provide ample foundations for violence.

    And as far as Improbable Joe goes, I didn’t know Ophelia wasn’t OK with his statement after he wrote that he took it back, but I thought she was since she hadn’t said otherwise at the time. I guess not. I want to make it clear that I do not condone anything Improbable Joe wrote. It was way over the top of what is civil, completely uncalled for, and, like I showed above, contradicted by this very post about a Muslim man who had partially rejected the faith that was being shoved on him by society. Sometimes people say things they can’t take back. Improbable Joe will just have to live with the consequences of that if that is how it was taken.

    I don’t understand what people think they are trying to do by arguing so adamantly for the term Islamophobia anyway and I really don’t care. A similar tactic was tried on me and others who were thinking of participating in Draw Muhammad Day last year saying that by participating we would be giving our tacit approval to racists and xenophobes in some far-right British party, which is of course not true and ludicrous. But more than that, being called a racist or xenophobe or Islamophobe by some ignoramous doesn’t frighten me one bit. As Gnu Atheists, we must be able to respond intelligently and sympathetically to unfounded claims of anti-Muslim bigotry aimed at us or own up to them if they are true. It doesn’t matter if we buy into the usage of the word Islamophobia to denote anti-Muslim bigotry or not.

    I’m sorry, Ophelia, that you are such an easy target for everything under the sun. The more bothersome Christians like to whine about how atheists never criticize Islam, but you’re damned if you don’t, damned if you do by the looks of it.

  62. Josh Slocum says

    I didn’t know Ophelia wasn’t OK with his statement after he wrote that he took it back, but I thought she was since she hadn’t said otherwise at the time. I guess not. I want to make it clear that I do not condone anything Improbable Joe wrote. It was way over the top of what is civil, completely uncalled for, and, like I showed above, contradicted by this very post about a Muslim man who had partially rejected the faith that was being shoved on him by society. Sometimes people say things they can’t take back. Improbable Joe will just have to live with the consequences of that if that is how it was taken.

    Aratina, I luv ya, I really do. You’re a fantastic commenter. But (and you knew there was a “but” about to happen):

    Stop being such a wuss. It’s offensive. This has nothing do with whether you “knew” if “Ophelia was OK” with the vile lie Joe told. You don’t have to know whether anyone is “OK” with it to recognize it as a filthy lie.

    It wasn’t just over the top, and it wasn’t just uncivil. It was a vicious and depraved thing to accuse Ophelia and Eric of, two people who exemplify more than most a humanistic ethic. Why are you having such a goddamned hard time condemning what Joe said in the terms it deserves?

    if that is how it was taken.

    Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. You’re really going to use the passive voice to make it seem less awful than it really was? You, of all people, Aratina?

    Fuck that noise, and what the hell has gotten into you?

  63. Marshall says

    So after reading through previous posts to get a little perspective on this whole thing, this is how I’m reading things; correct me if I’m wrong…

    In a previous thread, Ophelia states that ‘Islamophobia’ is not a useful term because it does not properly distinguish between Islam and Muslims, and muddles up the issue by painting opposition against one as opposition against the other. Improbable Joe sees ‘Islamophobia’ as being a similar term to ‘antisemitism’, and points out that it has been used as a label for the irrational rantings of Geller and the like. There seemed to be quite a bit of disagreement about this. People on one side seem to be saying that because it does not correctly distinguish between Islam and Muslims it is inaccurate and can be (and is) used to silence opposition to Islam by equating that opposition to hatred of Muslims. The opposing viewpoint seems to be that this is a very literal reading of the word and because the word is actually used in reference to, for example, Geller’s rantings, it is legitimate in describing anti-Muslim sentiments. Those who take this position also seem to feel that ‘xenophobia’ is not specific enough to be a useful descriptive term for the racist viewpoints of people such as Geller.

    Back on this thread, Ophelia makes a post wherein she talks about an article that repeatedly makes the mistake of equating opposition of Islam with hatred of Muslims (that is the only reading I can get from it, if I’m missing something let me know). Improbable Joe calls Ophelia a bigot and makes the claim that Ophelia and Eric believe “the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim”.

    If I’m right about all of this, then I’m with Ophelia here. The article referenced in this post seems to make the very mistake that she’s talking about. Improbable Joe has taken the criticism of the word ‘Islamophobia’ to be indicative of bigotry coming from Ophelia and Eric. If this is the reaction to the criticism of the word ‘Islamophobia’, it seems to me that this further supports Ophelia’s position that the word muddles the distinction between Muslims and Islam. So why should I think otherwise? It seems that RIGHT HERE are very clear examples of this happening!

    Now again, I could be misreading this entire thing. I’m not really ready to fully commit to that position yet, not until I get some confirmation that I’m properly understanding this debate. I’m new here so it’s possible that there’s some additional history that I’m missing. But from what I’ve seen so far people are not properly making the necessary distinction when the word ‘Islamophobia’ is used in the way it is in the article Ophelia takes issue with in this post. It seems pretty clear to me that the word IS being used to silence opposition, and that it IS muddling the distinction between Muslims and Islam.

    In any event, now that I have more information on the background of this whole thing I’m going to have to agree that Joe’s statement that Ophelia and Eric are “anti-Muslim bigots” for whom “the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim” is entirely uncalled for and unsupported. If it isn’t a flat out lie it’s only kept from being one by Joe’s rather huge failure to understand what’s actually being said here. Yeah Joe, you fucked up massively here. You owe Ophelia one hell of an apology.

  64. GordonWillis says

    Ophelia, you are perfectly right. I was hoping to help untangle a confusion, but I have no desire to be seen as offering excuses for Joe, as he has to sort this out for himself. His attack can’t be excused. He can only apologise to you and Eric.

  65. John says

    The Catholic Church is DEFINITELY more of a terrorist organization than e.g. al-Qaeda, at least in terms of attacking people in the USA;

    Yes, that’s why America’s security forces spend all their time, money and energy keeping tabs on militant Catholics lest those Catholics fly airplanes into buildings or dentonate a dirty bomb.

    Just to get back to Khan’s “islamophobia” bullshit a minute.

    The Islamic world, particularly the Arabo/Muslim world sees the Jews as deriving a great deal of their power from The Holocaust, anti-semitism and genocide.

    Having observed this ( and they’re quite wrong, by the way), they’ve set about attempting to appropriate that mantle of suffering in the hope they’ll get a pass on certain things.

    The neologism “islamophobia” was invented to be a Muslim equivalent of “anti-semitism”, an accusation that, unlike with anti-semitism, could be invoked at will simply to stiffle any and all criticsm, no matter how reasoned and justified, of islam and Muslims.

    Daisy khan doesn’t plead for understanding and moderation, she pleads for sharia based theocratic censorship.

    Laugh her out of the room.

  66. Aratina Cage says

    @Josh Slocum

    Sometimes we do need a friend to slap some sense into us.

    Fuck that noise, and what the hell has gotten into you?

    It just didn’t push my buttons hard enough I guess. It was so over the top that it was actually laughable, as if all of a sudden Improbable Joe had no clue who Ophelia is. I wasn’t meaning to come across as unsympathetic but more like shocked. But I really wasn’t thinking, was I? I was just falsely accused of quote-mining by TRiG and even such a little thing as that made me incensed. I really should have known better.

    Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. You’re really going to use the passive voice to make it seem less awful than it really was? You, of all people, Aratina?

    Well, Improbable Joe does have a history of commenting here, so I initially thought that his retraction would be the end of it. That’s why the passive voice was used. I was trying to convey that I hadn’t expected it to be as hurtful as it was to Ophelia and that since I was wrong about that, that I would not let my mistaken assumption stand in the way of his scolding or banning. I know Ophelia has taken a lot of shit lately from all sides, even from people who were close to her online, and I hate that. I should have realized that this would only add to the ongoing pile-up.

    Stop being such a wuss. It’s offensive. This has nothing do with whether you “knew” if “Ophelia was OK” with the vile lie Joe told. You don’t have to know whether anyone is “OK” with it to recognize it as a filthy lie.

    It wasn’t just over the top, and it wasn’t just uncivil. It was a vicious and depraved thing to accuse Ophelia and Eric of, two people who exemplify more than most a humanistic ethic. Why are you having such a goddamned hard time condemning what Joe said in the terms it deserves?

    It indicated something had gone terribly wrong with Improbable Joe’s critical faculties, that’s for sure. No, you’re right. I’m just sick of all of it. I’m sick of atheists being assholes to other atheists. Atheists are not Muslims. We have a right to criticize Islam and all other religions including their sectarian and shared vile practices and beliefs and that doesn’t make us bigots or mean we wish all religious people dead. Improbable Joe is an unmitigated asshole for accusing Ophelia and Eric of those evil things.

  67. says

    Aratina, love ya, mean it.

    Marshall, yes, that’s pretty much right. I don’t think you’ve missed anything relevant. I have been opposing the word “Islamophobia” for years but the argument with Joe in particular is just in the past week or two.

  68. says

    PS, Aratina – I don’t know what happened to your comment that didn’t go through. It wouldn’t be because of any L words; I don’t have any words as moderation-triggers. If it had a lot of links it would be in the held-for-approval file and it isn’t. I don’t know what went wrong. Whatever it was, it wasn’t intentional – it wasn’t “for cause.”

  69. Stephen Turner says

    I agree 100% with Ophelia.

    This argument about so-called “Islamophobia” is important. The Islamists are a menace to all of us, yet the idea that you cannot even criticise them is gaining traction. But this is the only civilised way we have of resolving our differences.

    To anyone who does not see Islamists as dangerous: you only have to look at how they treat the people under their control. That is probably how they would treat YOU if they could.

  70. Aratina Cage says

    Thanks Ophelia, and thanks too for letting me know about the comment. The problem of it disappearing must have been on my end, then. The L-word to which I referred is “liars”. Hee. I really need to watch myself on that term more. I used it to mean that liberal Christians are cherrypicking bits from the Bible, which is a good thing considering what they don’t pick even though it is… not really what is written down on the pages.

    Anyway, that comment of mine was little more than the text of a message and a link to it from a UK Muslim group who publicly denounced the three Muslim men who had papered London with pamphlets calling for the death of gays. The UK Muslim group agreed that the punishment of jail time was just and that the men were being uncivil and threatening. It sounded just like something we would expect to hear from a moderate or somewhat liberal Christian (but not New Age Christian) group whose members wanted to distance themselves from some Christian extremists.

  71. Josh Slocum says

    Aratina-

    Thanks.:) I really did mean to be the friend “slapping you out of it,” but I think I went a little overboard in my response to you. What Joe said made me so damned angry I couldn’t see straight and I wanted it to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It did need to be condemned and called out in stronger terms than what you wrote, but please know I didn’t mean to get all Nasty Up On Your Azz for the sake of it.

  72. Steersman says

    Upright Ape (#15),

    Joe, I don’t know what you have been smoking, but how many Muslim organizations have condemned the persecution of Hamza Kashgari?

    Exactly. And one might also wonder where Sayeeda Warsi is in condemning that persecution? If she is so all fired up about the problems of “militant secularism” and keen about freedom of religion maybe she should be stepping into the breach. Along with the Pope. But then again considering that the Pope is, in effect, behind the Irish blasphemy law I guess we – and Ms. Warsi – will have to write off him – along with his many legions – as allies.

    However, as a minor quibble, a niggling question, I wonder how many reformist type Muslim organizations and individuals – the same ones under the gun in Saudi Arabia right now, much less the “moderate” ones, stepped into the same breach in defense of free speech at the Queen Mary College and other similar locations.

    Might be time to reflect on Pastor Martin Niemöller’s condemnation of the “inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and purging of their chosen targets” :

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  73. Josh Slocum says

    You’re a piece of work, Joe, a real piece of work. So getting angry at someone justifies accusing Ophelia of wanting muslims dead? You walked away from this conversation for so many days, and you’re gonna double-down on THAT?

  74. GordonWillis says

    Nuts, Joe. Ophelia has said nothing that you have a right to be angry with. You’re making up a story. No one is saying what you say they are saying, and nobody minds you disagreeing, as long as disagreeing doesn’t mean untruthfully calling people bigots or implicit murderers. Come off it. Why not just apologise and start again?

  75. says

    Yeah, you guys win. You’re awesome. Even when someone admits to being wrong, they aren’t admitting to being wrong enough to satisfy your perfection. Would you like blood? Maybe a finger? How many joints do I need to mail you to convince you?

  76. says

    You weren’t wrong in the sense you made an understandable error that can be corrected with a ‘sorry about that’ kind of apology, Joe; it was an intentional and malicious character assassination that accused people of bigotry and wishing death upon muslim people. ‘Sorry’ just doesn’t cut it.

    Until you own this deed you’ve committed, and recognize just how unfair you were to attribute such vile falsehoods to others who clearly did not deserve it, your ‘sorry about that’ is inappropriate and far too understated to mean what it needs to mean: you wrote these lies, they were a terrible thing to write, and it was inexcusable that you did so. That, by the way, is not the opposite of being perfect but an admission of guilt for being a rude, callous, unjustified twit maligning other people’s good character with contemptuous disregard for what’s true in fact, an act that fully deserves nothing but scorn and disgust.

  77. Steersman says

    Improbable Joe (#9),

    David Amies: Eric and Ophelia will tell you that even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence. According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim.

    I’m not sure that it is quite correct to say that “even the ones who condemn violence are secretly supporting violence”, but if there’s any truth to this study quoted on Eric MacDonald’s site then it seems quite reasonable to infer that even the moderate Muslims are in fact “supporting violence” to a greater or lesser extent:

    The survey’s findings, explored in depth below, were that 51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari‘a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.

    And regardless of whether they are doing so inadvertently or by intention the targets are just as dead, intimidated or in the position of having had their civil rights abrogated. Looks to me like the difference is rather academic at best.

    So I would probably agree with that part of the statement whether either Eric or Ophelia said so or not. For details you might want to take a look at the site recommended by David Amies, in particular an article it provides a link to raising the question as to why Fox News has not shown the story about Hamza Kashgari. Interestingly, I note that CBC News – their World page at least – seems also to be suppressing the story; I suggested through an e-mail to them that it was an important one, but they either figure it isn’t or political correctness has, once again, run amok.

    But saying “According to them, there’s no good Muslim except a dead Muslim” looks to me like a supposed statement of fact that is getting awfully close to libel and slander country. Even if there was some evidence to support that contention I would have tended to temper the statement with “in my opinion” or “it seems to me” or “their position seems almost tantamount to”. While I tend to think that at least some are making a bigger deal out of your statements than is entirely justified, it also seems you might be unreasonably discounting or deprecating the consequences and implications of them.

    And while that idea in particular has crossed my own mind I have never entertained it for very long before changing it into “the only good Muslim – at least in the sense of one who dogmatically insists on the literal supposedly supernatural truths therein – is one who is still in Saudi Arabia or who has been expeditiously deported thereto”. One really cannot, in my view anyway, give any credence to the great many credible sources – Ibn Warraq and Irshad Manji, for examples – who persuasively argue that Islam is intrinsically – bred in the bone – and inherently inimical and antithetical to the principles of democracy without leaning towards something very close to that latter position.

  78. says

    Hey are using WordPress on your website system? Iam new at all to blog planet but. Iam trying to get started out and hang up my own, personal. Also i heard about Drupal is okay. Will see my alternative…. Helpful submit, thanks.

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