Sep 29 2012


Right right right, I’m an “Islamophobe,” and criticizing Islam is punching down because Muslims are a despised group. (The second part is true, but the first part doesn’t follow. Punching Muslims is punching down, but punching Islam isn’t, because Islam itself is what punches down. Islam has huge, illegitmate power in many many parts of the globe. Punching Islam does not equal punching Muslims. Yes one can be a stalking horse for the other, but that doesn’t make them identical.) So allow me to be a Christianityophobe for a few minutes. Not that I wouldn’t be anyway, but I feel like pointing it out.

Russia. Russia seems to be getting more and more priest-ridden and believer-whipped. This time it’s believers shouting about a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and getting it shut down.

A theatre in the south Russian city of Rostov has dropped a production of Jesus Christ Superstar after protests by Orthodox Christians.

A Russian company was due to stage the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera at the Rostov Philharmonic next month.

Protesters had complained the opera projected the “wrong” image of Christ.

News of the cancellation baffled members of the cast and caused indignation among commentators wary of Church interference in public life.

Exactly. Church interference in public life. This is why I’m phobic about theocratic religions – because they interfere.

Local Russian Orthodox protesters lodged their complaint with prosecutors in Rostov-on-Don, a city of one million, and also wrote a letter to the management of the Philharmonic, according to the Rostov Times newspaper.

Citing a “new law protecting the rights of believers”, they described the musical as a “profanation” and said any such production should be submitted to the Russian Orthodox Church for approval.

It is unclear to which law the protesters were referring. The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, is currently considering a bill which would make it a crime to offend the “religious feelings of citizens”.

They want everything submitted to the relevant theocrats for approval. That’s what they all want, and that’s why we have to push back.


Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Yes, *sigh*. You are such the bigoted Islamophobe. At least according to the Islamophobophobes.

  2. 2

    I don’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never called you an Islamophobe, nor do I think you are one. I occasionally disagree with some of your comments about issues relating to Islam, but that isn’t the same thing at all. (When I use the word “Islamophobe”, I’m talking about people who are actually bigoted against Muslims – Pat Condell being a good example.)

    And “criticizing Islam is punching down” isn’t quite what I was trying to say. It’s more complicated than that. I think it’s absolutely right to speak out against religiously-motivated oppression in Muslim communities against women and LGBT people. But I think it’s also important to do so with enough sensitivity to the oppression that Muslims, in Western countries, face for being Muslims (and to the way in which this is interwoven with oppression of minority ethnic groups). It’s a horribly complicated and nuanced issue. That’s all I was ever trying to say, and I apologize that I evidently didn’t communicate this very successfully.

  3. 3

    And as to your comments about the dangers of theocracy, I agree completely.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Walton – well I know it is, and I’ve said so many times. We discuss it in Does God Hate Women?

    But thanks for the apology. I don’t think it was you mostly – much more strange gods, and Ing and Giliell at Pharyngula.

  5. 5
    strange gods before me ॐ

    But thanks for the apology. I don’t think it was you mostly – much more strange gods


    Quote me.

  6. 6
    strange gods before me ॐ

    This is presumably the thread you’re talking about, right?


    I’d like to not be accused of saying things I didn’t say.

  7. 7

    I marvel at what’s going on in Russia. Didn’t the ROC’s leaders learn anything from the previous century? Except perhaps “do unto others before they do unto you”, it seems.

  8. 8

    Ophelia: None of us (sgbm included) called you an Islamophobe on that thread. And I don’t think anyone thinks you are. I think you’re reading in things that have not been said.

  9. 9

    No she is not wrong.I have have seen people like KG, Nick something or the other making comments about Ophelia Benson (to the effect that she rejects islamophobia like that is such a heinous crime) on another FTB blog. These are sotto voce comments that are quite poisonous when one doesnt have the context to understand why Ophelia rejects the term but not anti-muslim bigotry.

  10. 10
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Nope. Still not true. Cite your claims: comment by KG. Doesn’t say what you want it to say, miraxpath.

    Maybe you think that everybody understands Ophelia’s position will therefore respect it. Not so.

  11. 11
    strange gods before me ॐ

    You give no evidence that KG doesn’t understand her. He evidently understands her just fine, having argued with her about it at length.

  12. 12
    strange gods before me ॐ

    … everybody who

  13. 13

    And what is so bad about being ‘islamophobic?’ Fear and repulsion towards a destructive belief system, and of people whose behavior is guided by said system is in no way pathological.

    No one is accused of ‘Nazi-phobia,’ ‘communism-ophobia’ should be as acceptable too, but for the opportunistic right-wingnut side of things.

    Is hating Goebbels or Heydrich ‘punching down’ because they are individuals rather than institutions?

    What distinguishes the ‘islamophobes’ one doesn’t want to be mistaken for is the failure to apply the sames standard to Xianity or Judaism.

    I am an Abrahamic monotheismophobe.

  14. 14

    Walton – well I know it is, and I’ve said so many times. We discuss it in Does God Hate Women?

    But thanks for the apology. I don’t think it was you mostly – much more strange gods, and Ing and Giliell at Pharyngula.

    That’s not fair at all. I commented negatively on to the best of my knowledge ONE post to which I asked a question, got corrected and thanked you for setting me straight.

  15. 15

    Ophelia: None of us (sgbm included) called you an Islamophobe on that thread. And I don’t think anyone thinks you are. I think you’re reading in things that have not been said.

    Yes. Although frankly if you’re THAT defensive about it that you jump up my butt about it for misreading you once, even though I accepted the correction from both you and others and just asked for clarification I’m starting to wonder.

  16. 16
    Nick Gotts

    I have have seen people like KG, Nick something or the other making comments about Ophelia Benson (to the effect that she rejects islamophobia like that is such a heinous crime) on another FTB blog. – miraxpath

    As sgbm@11 says, I’ve argued about this with Ophelia at length. I stand by what I said on this thread. If anyone points to comments either there or elsewhere in which I’ve attributed to Ophelia views or arguments that are not hers, I will certainly apologize.

  17. 17
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Since I’m obviously one of the bad kids here I’d like to know what my crimes are actually.
    With quotes.
    If you don’t know where to start looking, I linked to the lengthier one on the “Islamophobia” thread, you can search for my nym upwards.
    If not I would really much like it for people to stop making claims about me.
    Ophelia, I’m really pissed right now. So, I disagree with you on the subject, I have tried to give my argumnts, here and at Pharyngula. I actually didn’t bring it here because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. So, yes, it was mostly remarks amongst friends that I made on the Lounge. I didn’t run around FTB smearing you and I have never ever called you a racist or something like that.
    The lengthier post was in reply to Josh with whom I disagree on this subject, too. If you feel so terribly upset or maligned about my remarks you could engage them. But just to drop my name like that is unter aller Sau.

  18. 18
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, it seems like my crimes will forever remain in the dark.
    So, it’s fine to drag me into this, accuse me of vague things and then not to bother anymore.
    Fine. Now that everybody on B&W knows what a horrible person I am nothing has been achieved in terms of discussion, but everything in turning me out.
    Thank you very much.
    See you. Not.

  19. 19
    Nick Gotts

    So, it seems there are no specific complaints about anything Giliell or I have said being inaccurate or unfair; we each asked for details, no-one has responded in several days, that speaks for itself. I assume the same is true of Ing and SGBM, since, again, there was a marked lack of specificity in the accusations against them.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    Because they were on those super-massive threads at Pharyngula – both The Lounge and Thunderdome, which both come in chapters and have several pages per chapter. It takes forever to track everything down. It would take even longer now (because there are new pages and chapters).

  21. 21
    strange gods before me ॐ


    I already linked the thread in question, back at #10.

    I know what I’ve said, and I know you’re not telling the truth about me.

  22. 22
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Link fail: back at #10.

  23. 23
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Ophelia, I already told you where to find MY comments on the subject, they’re not hard to find.
    You’re now engaging in distictly dishonest behaviour. You make claims about us, slander us and then refuse to back up your arguments.

    Since I’m obviously one of the bad kids here I’d like to know what my crimes are actually.
    With quotes.
    If you don’t know where to start looking, I linked to the lengthier one on the “Islamophobia” thread, you can search for my nym upwards.

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    You call that not hard to find? I don’t call that not hard to find.

    I haven’t “slandered” you. That’s ridiculous.

    Give me a link, and I’ll look again.

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    Giliell if you want to say something to me you’re going to have to do it without any jeers about how ancient and senile I am. That’s slime territory.

  26. 26
    Ophelia Benson

    Ok I did look up the comments again. They’re not impressive. They claim that I generalize about “Muslims” when in fact I was talking about Islamists. I don’t generalize about “Muslims.” (I sometimes quote or paraphrase others who cite “Muslim opinion” and the like, but I don’t do it myself, not least because I don’t think there is such a thing.)

    See for yourself.


    Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”
    23 September 2012 at 1:35 pm
    Someone help me here, to me this looks like Ophilia Benson is off the fucking rails criticizing Muslims for peacefully protesting now


    To me it reads like if you violently protest your barbarians and if you peacefully protest you’re engaged in a window strategy to support barbarians.

    What exactly are Muslims supposed to do that won’t be construed as they being violent assholes short of just shutting up?


    Giliell, Approved Straight Chorus
    23 September 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Ophelia’s massive blind spot. Everything she knows about punching up vs. down, privilege, power discrepancy etc is gone when she talks about muslims.

    Giliell, Approved Straight Chorus
    23 September 2012 at 3:21 pm
    Ok, let me try to explain it:
    I actually agree that religion is not identity the same way gender or sexual orientation is.
    I agree with freedom of expression/speech.
    But I also see that it’s not that easy for people to seperate religion from their identity, especially when talking about piss-poor people in underdeveloped parts of the world for whom all those concepts are literally alien.
    And you cannot seperate this from 19th century colonialism, European racism or, of course, the Irak and Afghanistan wars.
    You cannot seperate this easily from a world with one dominant power and culture that constantly beats upon other cultures, and only in the most benign cases by establishing McDonalds.
    It seems interesting to me that most people who moan here about Ophelia’s writing on this subject and the topic in general are Europeans, people who live in countries with:
    -classical colonial histories
    -high proportions of muslim immigrants
    -more secular cultures
    And I think we see this tendency of othering 1.5 billion people just because of their religion as something dangerous and bad. And it’s someting Ophelia not only tolerates but fosters.
    Comments like this:

    A disgusting man in a ridiculous country.

    , devaluing millions of Pakistani go unchallenged there.
    This is Ophelia’s own from the post Ing linked to:

    That looks alarmingly like a wedge strategy, or a move the window strategy – separate the “more popular moderate” Muslim Brotherhood from the Salafists so that the MB will seem not so bad after all.

    Now, who’s supposed to drive this wedge? As the differenciation was made by Avaaz, I find the indication of a wedge strategy to make the Muslim Brotherhood look good pretty problematic.
    Unfortunate word-choice? Yes.
    Conscious wedge strategy? Gimme my tinfoil hat.

    Why is it so hard for you to see that she’s criticizing the idea of treating “Muslims” as an identity category in ways that run roughshod over the women/gays within that category?

    Well, for the matter of treating people with basic human decency and not dicriminating against them, religion (and lack thereoff) is and should be seen as a protected class. I’ve already written something about the problem of identity above.
    Religion is a factor that easily distracts from a whole lot of other factors. It’s a vehicle.

    Why don’t you agree that it’s dangerous and problematic to accept the framing of “Islamophobia” in ways that privilege the dominance of men and clerics at the expense of women?

    Well, that is dangerous, yet it’s not what I’m arguing and I don’t think Ing and Walton are doing that either. Islamophobia reinforces the privilege and dominance of cultural (and ethnical!) hegemonies over marginalized groups, within countries and globally.
    There’s more than one axis of oppression and I’m pretty able to stand up against the oppression of women and gays by Islamists while standing up against the othering of muslims by the west.

    If you want an example of “othering” take her post on the minister who wants to pay 100k to kill the maker of “Innocence of Muslims”. That’s bad, that’s horrible. But it is presented in a way that this is unique to muslims and somehow tied into the concept.
    Take the common outrage over honour-killings. the focus is not so much on the actual victims, the girls and women killed, but on how bad those muslims are.
    Yet when a western guy kills his kid and wife who wanted to leave him it’s a family tragedy. It doesn’t show how horrible our societies are as a whole.

  27. 27
    Ophelia Benson

    So, in short, Giliell, I don’t see how I misrepresented you, let alone “slandered” you. I think your comment is pretty stupid and wrongheaded as applied to me. I simply don’t say things like “how bad those muslims are.” That’s a dopy and dangerous thing to say, but I don’t say it.

  28. 28
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    So, where did I call you an Islamophobe?
    That’s one massive misrepresentation.
    Actually it’s a falsehood.
    Since the only “argument” you have to make about my points is “stupid and wrongheaded”, you cannot honestly expect anybody to take you serious. My points are “stupid and wrongheaded”? Should be easy to show that, but you’re not engaging in anything.
    You can go on schoolmastering, ’cause it’s your blog, but I don’t have to sit and take it, ’cause I’m not at school anymore and “’cause I say so” doesn’t fly with me anymore.

  29. 29


    Um as you point out I only asked for a clarification because I thought I was reading it wrong. People responded with the correction in that thread. I’m not sure why you think that somehow makes me an asshole but it’s pretty frustrating that even if you have some long ongoing bullshit to deal with to drag me into it by name for one thing.

  30. 30


    Not Muslims – Islamists.

    Not all Muslims are Islamists.

    That you that clarifies things. It seemed like you were presuming that everyone protesting was an Islamicst or something

    I’m sorry that was apparently me maligning you.

  31. 31
    Ophelia Benson

    Ing – thanks.

  32. 32
    Ophelia Benson

    Giliell – I didn’t say you did call me an Islamophobe. Walton mentioned several things, and I replied in general terms that I thought it was other people more than Walton, you being one. I nowhere said “Giliell called me an Islamophobe.” I think it’s pretty clear in context that the issue is a bunch of accusations, not one specific one.

    I didn’t say just “stupid and wrongheaded” – I said “pretty stupid and wrongheaded as applied to me.” That’s what I think. What you said about what I had said was just inaccurate and all over the place. It was sloppy reading.

    You are of course right that you don’t have to sit and take anything. I haven’t asked you to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>