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Apr 17 2013

Arrest the barmaid!

She’s Islamophobic!

islamofraud

208 comments

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  1. 1
    mythbri

    Criticism of Islam =/= Islamophobia.

    I’m troubled by the implication that Islamophobia is nothing more than criticism.

  2. 2
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    mythbri

    I’m troubled by the implication that Islamophobia is nothing more than criticism.

    So am I.

  3. 3
    Kevin

    mythbri: Not according to Muslims…they see every single criticism of Islam as “Islamophobia”.

    Which they equate with racism. As if Islam were a race.

    It’s nothing more than a silencing tactic. Akin to the $cientologist strategy of accusing you of doing something shameful or harmful (like being a pedophile) instead of focusing on their scam.

    Now, I think we can all distinguish between legitimate criticism and irrational bigotry. Problem is, the vocal Muslims do not. They conflate one with the other.

    “Mohammed was a fraud, just like Joseph Smith.” ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!eleventy11!!!

    Mormonophobia, too, if you will.

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    mythbri: Not according to Muslims…they see every single criticism of Islam as “Islamophobia”.

    Who? All muslims?

    Which they equate with racism. As if Islam were a race.

    Speaking about races, did you read the one about the Saudi student at the Boston marathon?

    Yes, by all means, let’s wiffle and waffle about how Islam isn’t a race and therefore Islamophobia isn’t a thing.

  5. 5
    liokae

    Yes, by all means, let’s wiffle and waffle about how Islam isn’t a race and therefore Islamophobia isn’t a thing.

    Criticism of Islam not being Islamophobia doesn’t imply that Islamophobia doesn’t exist.

  6. 6
    Anthony K

    Criticism of Islam not being Islamophobia doesn’t imply that Islamophobia doesn’t exist.

    That would be true if arguments were things unto themselves, not tools by the people making them.

    For people (used in the exact same way Kevin above uses “Muslims”), it does.

  7. 7
    Jacob Schmidt

    As if Islam were a race.

    Islam is mostly populated by people who aren’t white. A lot criticism of islam boils down to calling muslims “arabian goat fuckers”. Racism is a huge factor in islam’s criticism, especially since predominantly white religions are guilty of many of the same things, yet are often given pass by people criticizing islam.

  8. 8
    Gregory Greenwood

    Fundamentalists, of whatever stripe, all basically think the same way; the only freedoms, rights or opinions that matter are their own. Thus, it is fine for them to say things like those who harbour other religious beliefs are ‘damned’, or that atheists are subhuman, baby-eating monsters lacking in any shred of morality or human decency, but anyone who dares to criticise their beliefs at all – still less in the same terms as they themselves use so freely – is automatically tarred with the brush of bigotry.

    As Kevin says @ 3, it is used as a silencing tactic all the time, and fundamentalists are very good at parroting the language of those genuinely concerned with inequalities on society, even though they often dismally fail to understand the terms. As an example, a few years ago I ran across a feminist who was discussing the problematic attitudes of patriarchal religions including Islam toward women. She got shouted down as a ‘racist’ and told to check her white privilege – as if there are no white muslims, or as if the fact that the bulk of the global muslim population is at this time non-white means that the religion is immune to feminist critiques from anyone who happens to be white. Or is at least considered ‘sufficiently’ white for a charge of white privilege to stick by the person leveling the charge. In this case the woman in question identified as a dual heritage person who grew up in a muslim culture, not that her opponents cared to listen.

    Islamophobia is a serious issue in the modern world, that much is obvious from the actions of white supremacist thugs and hardline nationalist groups along with discriminatory laws passed in the name of ‘security’, but charges of islamaphobia aimed at all criticism cannot be allowed to shut down all discussion of Islam except fawning praise, as seems to be the goal of some islamic groups.

  9. 9
    Anthony K

    Islamophobia is a serious issue in the modern world, that much is obvious from the actions of white supremacist thugs and hardline nationalist groups along with discriminatory laws passed in the name of ‘security’,

    Oh? Since when did such luminaries as Dawkins and Harris join white supremacist thug or hardline nationalist groups?

    Methinksfuckingknows it’s not limited to such groups and is much more widespread than that.

  10. 10
    grumpyoldfart

    And at the end of the day the Koran is still a philosophically vacuous fraud

  11. 11
    Anthony K

    And at the end of the day Brian Dunning is still a philosophically vacuous fraud.

    Couldn’t resist.

  12. 12
    Kevin

    Yes, Jacob…I said one could easily distinguish between irrational bigotry and valid criticism, didn’t I?

    “Sand nigger” is not a valid criticism. Nor is “rag head”. Or a thousand other slurs.

    “Islam institutionalizes sexism” is.

    I’ve actually tried to make my way though the Koran. Egad, what nose-holding nonsense. The thing is dripping with patriarchy. Starting at Sura 2, where believers — male believers — are promised pure women (not merely virgins, but women without blood, urine, or feces) to mate with in heaven. But in the va-jay-jay only — no butt secks for Muslims.

    Women believers? No promises made at all. Not even to be purified so they can mate with the men. They’re not even an afterthought in “heaven”.

  13. 13
    Gregory Greenwood

    Anthony K @ 9;

    Oh? Since when did such luminaries as Dawkins and Harris join white supremacist thug or hardline nationalist groups?

    Methinksfuckingknows it’s not limited to such groups and is much more widespread than that.

    Yup – my bad. As you say, the rot of Islamophobia comes in many shades and degrees. The racist thugs and nationalists are merely the most obvious strain, but it manifests as discrimination both subtle and gross throughout society as well. There is no question that it is widespread to the point of being ubiquitous in some circles, and is even more worryingly viewed as an almost acceptable bigotry by some people, due in no small part to those who will marshal testerical fear of ‘scary brown terrorists’ to the cause of trying to justify social inequites against muslims.

    Criticisng the inarguable problems within some forms of islam with regard to the treatment of women, gay people, and other unjustly marginalised groups is made all the more fraught by such a toxic environment where all too many people fear a version of militant islam that doesn’t really exist as a reality for most muslims except in the fevered imaginings of rightwing talking heads.

  14. 14
    truthspeaker

    Anthony K, are you unaware of the bloggers who were arrested in Bangladesh for criticizing Islam, or the musician in Turkey who was convicted for quoting a poem by Omar Khayyam?

    That’s what this cartoon was aimed at.

  15. 15
    mythbri

    @Kevin #3

    Which they equate with racism. As if Islam were a race.

    How does one “profile” someone for religious beliefs?

    When it is suggested that we “profile Muslims, and be honest about it”, who is supposed to be profiled and how is this to be accomplished?

    It’s nothing more than a silencing tactic. Akin to the $cientologist strategy of accusing you of doing something shameful or harmful (like being a pedophile) instead of focusing on their scam.

    It certainly can be used as a silencing technique, if one considers criticism of Islam to fall under the umbrella of Islamophobia. But just as is illustrated in the above cartoon, criticism of Islam is not Islamophobia, and therefore Mo is using an accusation of Islamophobia to silence the barmaid.

    This doesn’t mean that all instances of Islamophobia are false or intended to silence criticism.

    Now, I think we can all distinguish between legitimate criticism and irrational bigotry.

    Apparently “we” can’t all do that.

    Problem is, the vocal Muslims do not. They conflate one with the other.

    Citation needed. All “vocal” Muslims do this? And even for people that do, how is this in anyway different from any religious person claiming that religious beliefs are beyond criticism?

    “Mohammed was a fraud, just like Joseph Smith.” ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!eleventy11!!!

    Mormonophobia, too, if you will.

    Nope. Inelegant and insulting (and justified, to my mind) criticism, but not Islamophobia OR Mormonophobia.

  16. 16
    Jacob Schmidt

    truthspeaker, are you unaware that Anthony was responding to the claim that islamophobia is not racist?

    Kevin

    Yes, Jacob…I said one could easily distinguish between irrational bigotry and valid criticism, didn’t I?

    “Sand nigger” is not a valid criticism. Nor is “rag head”. Or a thousand other slurs.

    “Islam institutionalizes sexism” is.

    You think just because a given criticism is valid, it can’t be motivated by racism?

    Christianity is incredibly sexist as well. All the abrahamic religions are. Buddhism is sexist as well. Most religions are sexist, in my experience. Yet many of islam’s critics (I’m not saying you) disregard all that, (and sometimes defend it) in favour of criticizing Those Brown People. Criticisms of islam, even valid ones, are all to often motivated by racism.

  17. 17
    Chris Clarke

    Anthony K, are you unaware of the bloggers who were arrested in Bangladesh for criticizing Islam, or the musician in Turkey who was convicted for quoting a poem by Omar Khayyam?

    That’s what this cartoon was aimed at.

    And you know it must be true, having been spoken by “truthspeaker.”

    There are days where it would be nice to be able to enjoy that small a level of self-awareness.

  18. 18
    Anthony K

    Yes, truthspeaker, I am aware of those cases.

  19. 19
    Jacob Schmidt

    Kevin,

    Yes, Jacob…I said one could easily distinguish between irrational bigotry and valid criticism, didn’t I?

    “Sand nigger” is not a valid criticism. Nor is “rag head”. Or a thousand other slurs.

    “Islam institutionalizes sexism” is.

    Valid criticism can be motivated by racism. Look through PZ’s archives a bit. You’ll find a video where a whole bunch of people ignore a white bike thief, while others harass a black one. Just because what someone is saying is accurate doesn’t mean it can’t be motivated by racism; it may very well be inspired by irrational bigotry. It seems to me that many of the people who criticize islam focus on it disproportionately; as if Those Brown People are the biggest threat ever, despite them only doing much the same thing many religions have done and are currently doing.

  20. 20
    notsont

    I think the problem with “islamaphobia” is the word itself is misleading, even in this thread its equated to racism and discrimination against people of color, we already have a word for that, its called racism. Why the invention of a new one which includes “islam” which is a set of ideas, its not a race. Add to that the fact that “islamaphobia” is quite often used to denigrate anyone with a negative opinion of Islam and you make the word utterly useless.

  21. 21
    truthspeaker

    Anthony K

    17 April 2013 at 2:25 pm (UTC -5)

    Yes, truthspeaker, I am aware of those cases.

    Then what’s your objection to the cartoon?

  22. 22
    Anthony K

    I think the problem with “islamaphobia” is the word itself is misleading, even in this thread its equated to racism and discrimination against people of color, we already have a word for that, its called racism. Why the invention of a new one which includes “islam” which is a set of ideas, its not a race.

    In your haste to make the “we already have the exact perfect number of words to describe things” argument, it seems to have escaped your notice that racism, sexism, and homophobia describe specific forms if discrimination. Why not dump them since we already have an umbrella term?

  23. 23
    nullifidian

    Why the invention of a new one which includes “islam” which is a set of ideas, its not a race.

    Because it’s perfectly possible for people to have bigoted ideas about the content and adherents of a religion. To use an example that will get around the mental blocks some people in this thread have, I’ll use the example of the views of Jack Chick or numerous other fundamentalist Protestants about Catholics.

    Also, by coining the term, it allows one to critique the expression of coded racism without having to make the racism apparent first. If we are to dispense with words denoting bigotry towards a religion because of coded racism towards a specific ethnicity, then by the same token we should drop the term “anti-semitism”. I’ve never met a geniune anti-semite whose conception of Jews wasn’t based on viewing them as an ethnic class.

  24. 24
    vaiyt

    @Kevin:

    As if Islam were a race.

    Islam isn’t a “race”, but Arabs might as well be – and you can be bloody sure most people aren’t thinking of lily-white Bosnians when they say “Muslims”.

  25. 25
    The Mellow Monkey

    To use an example that will get around the mental blocks some people in this thread have, I’ll use the example of the views of Jack Chick or numerous other fundamentalist Protestants about Catholics. Also, by coining the term, it allows one to critique the expression of coded racism without having to make the racism apparent first.

    The bigotry directed towards Irish Catholic immigrants in the United States during the 19th century is a good example of this. The lines between the religion and the ethnicity were blurred. To just call it “racism” doesn’t take into account the specifically religious aspects of the bigotry or all the ways it could be coded.

  26. 26
    eveningchaos

    I had a coworker tell me the day of the bombings, “Don’t let any fucking Arabs in the building!” This “gentleman”is a good old, god fearing, Irish Catholic asshat. He emphatically stated that the Boston bombings were so obviously orchestrated by Islamic terrorists. His evidence was that those type of improvised explosives were the same design as used by bombers in Afghanistan and Iraq. I did some research on the pressure cooker bombs used in the attack, and turns out the IRA was the first to use the design. Maybe it was IRA elements in Boston? There are certainly many Catholics in Boston. Let’s round them up and interrogate them and ransack their homes without compromise!

    I confronted him with the information and he took offense to implying that Catholics have been complicit in violence in the past and present. He then proceeded to call be a Commie, Atheist, Gay-lover. i told him if I hear one more racist or bigoted comment I will go straight to HR and get his piece of shit ass fired.

    You can criticize specific ideas within a religion and the damage that ensues from those who take them to heart. But once we start to group entire cultures into one camp, the rift becomes unbridgeable. The fact is the largest ethnic group that practices Islam resides in South East Asia. If you are going to racially profile people, start with all Asian looking people. We’ll see how many convictions come out of that practice. Probably as many as have come out of racially profiling people of Middle Eastern decent.

  27. 27
    okeydoke

    I guess, muslims learned the effectiveness of libel and slander from the jews. Although, being a professional victim seems to be a common trait among the agenda driven religious.

  28. 28
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I think the problem with “islamaphobia” is the word itself is misleading,

    How? The word means irrational fear of Islam and its adherents. There have been some folks, often trolls, here who go bonkers at the concept of being under Sharia law, even if they can’t come up with a rational way for that to happen. Islamophobia…

  29. 29
    Anthony K

    Then what’s your objection to the cartoon?

    Beyond its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims, or anyone who looks like they might conceivably be one, to use Harris’ words, and in the atheoskepticsphere in particular, as evinced bu Kevin’s blanket statements in this thread about Muslims and the general writings of say, the horsemen of atheism?

    It’s badly drawn and not that interesting as a comic.

  30. 30
    mythbri

    I guess, muslims learned the effectiveness of libel and slander from the jews. Although, being a professional victim seems to be a common trait among the agenda driven religious.

    Right, because it’s not as if Muslims or Jews are ever actually victims. Never forget? Get over it, already! That was so last century.

    Drone strikes? You’re just going to have to live with the fear of instant obliteration from above. Suck it up.

  31. 31
    frog

    Kevin@12:

    not merely virgins, but women without blood, urine, or feces

    Someone needs to tell them that they can purchase such women on the internet. Of course, they also come without a pulse, don’t make sandwiches, and are mostly made of substances not occurring in nature; but I guarantee they will be as compliant, silent, and undemanding as any sexist could wish.

  32. 32
    Stacy

    its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims

    You and I must not have seen the same cartoon.

    I saw one that makes fun of people who can take criticism of any silly belief but their own.

  33. 33
    notsont

    its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims

    So the cartoon is “islamaphobic”?

    But the word isn’t useless?

  34. 34
    Anthony K

    I saw one that makes fun of people who can take criticism of any silly belief but their own.

    No. It made fun of some people who can take criticsm of any position but their own.

    Let’s not play fucking naive here. If it was simply a dig at doctors with beams in their eye, it would have referred to say, Dawkins and Harris by name.

  35. 35
    drosera

    @ Anthony K,

    Then what’s your objection to the cartoon?

    Beyond its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims, or anyone who looks like they might conceivably be one, to use Harris’ words, and in the atheoskepticsphere in particular, as evinced bu Kevin’s blanket statements in this thread about Muslims and the general writings of say, the horsemen of atheism?
    It’s badly drawn and not that interesting as a comic.

    Mildly making fun of Islam is contributing “to a general fear and hatred of Muslims.” If that is true then this very same cartoon is also contributing to a general hatred and fear of Mormons and Christians, right? Better stop ridiculing religion altogether.

  36. 36
    Anthony K
    its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims
    So the cartoon is “islamaphobic”?

    But the word isn’t useless?

    Did I fucking say it was Islamophobic, or did I say it was simplistic and contributed to a generally Islamophobic culture?

    And no, the word isn’t useless. I’m not so generous in my appraisal of your contribution to the sociolinguistics.

  37. 37
    vaiyt

    Problem is, the vocal Muslims do not. They conflate one with the other.

    As do the people who have turned Everybody Draw Mohammed Day into a playground for flaming racists.

  38. 38
    David Marjanović

    “It was quite hurtful!” Word of the living God. Thanks be to God, the Lord.

    …Hang on a second. Hurtful? What happened to credo quia absurdum?!?

  39. 39
    Anthony K

    Mildly making fun of Islam is contributing “to a general fear and hatred of Muslims.” If that is true then this very same cartoon is also contributing to a general hatred and fear of Mormons and Christians, right?

    How many Christians were tackled for running from the scene of the Boston bombings yesterday due to perceived religious affiliation? How many Christian theocracies were bombed into oblivion for ten years because of terrorist acts committed by Christians in the US?

    Better stop ridiculing religion altogether.

    Given that there are very few criticisms of religious believers (and that’s what this is all about, right? There’s no religion worth making fun of but for their adherents) that don’t apply in some measure to atheists as a movement, maybe that’s not a bad idea.

    As for words that may be useless because they’re over-used and often simply to dismiss, diminish, or deny responses from interlocutors, we should probably retire “irrational” as well.

  40. 40
    Alverant

    eveningchaos
    So let me get this right, your worker made ignorant, hateful statements about muslims; took offense over the fact the bombs used in an Irish-Catholic town had their origins in an Irish-Catholic terrorist group; proceeded to ignorant and hateful statements to you (including using Atheist as an insult)? I’d take his sorry ass to HR right then and there. He can dish it out but he can’t take it.

  41. 41
    daniellavine

    There is no biological reality to the concept of “race.” If you wanted to create a biologically valid concept of “race” then the majority of races on earth would exist only in Africa and would be mostly quite dark-skinned. The fact that the western concept of “race” has only one category for “black” is a clear enough indication that western notions of “race” are socially constructed and not based on any underlying reality.

    So the objection “Islam is not a race!” is so completely fucking irrelevant as not to justify being rebutted but I’m going to do it anyway because apparently even on Pharyngula there are people who just do. not. get. it.

    The western construction of race depends upon erasing substantial differences between ethnic groups in order to lump them into synthetic, socially constructed categories we call “race”. Chinese and Japanese folks are both parts of the “Asian” race despite a complete lack of either biological or ethnic justifications for doing so. Quite similarly it is entirely possible to lump together Pakistanis, Pashtuns, Persians, and Arabs into a synthetic “Muslim” race. This is in fact what the sorts of people who use the epithet of “sand nigger” and similar do. They do not bother to understand the reality of ethnicities within the Muslim world — they lump all Muslims together into one category.

    And then they talk about “Muslims” as though they were a race.

    Since race is socially constructed there is no reason why people can’t or wouldn’t socially construct a synthetic racial category for Muslims and then consider “Muslim” a race at least implicitly. This is called “racial construction” and its where all the things we consider race come from. Thus “Islam is not a race” is a completely vacuous argument. In the exact same sense it is also true that “black” and “Asian” are not races. Does that mean racism against blacks and Asians doesn’t exist?

    The word “Islamophobic” is therefore useful precisely because we’re in another period of racial formation in which a great many USians including conservative news media and much of the rest of the news media as well lump together disparate ethnic groups that happen to share a holy book and create essentialist narratives about how Muslims as a category are stupid, brutish thugs who “hate freedom” and always respond to criticism with violence. That is, “Islamophobia” describes an ongoing social phenomenon within the body politic. If you’re not fucking blind you can see it every day just about anywhere you look.

    Jesus and Mo is a boring, badly-drawn, didactic cartoon that wouldn’t elicit so much as a smirk from anyone who didn’t already completely agree with the viewpoint being presented. It certainly isn’t about to make anyone think critically about anything.

  42. 42
    BrianX

    This is exactly what happened to Laci Green last year. Somehow the fact that Laci is half-Persian on her father’s side made it seem even worse to those who harassed her over it.

    As best as I can understand it, the equation of criticism of Islam = Islamophobia = racism is a somewhat complex relation. Like most religions, Islam teaches that it’s self-evident, so a lot of people who make this relation think that critics are being deliberately obtuse. A lot of Christians (especially the fundies) do the same thing. That’s nothing particularly special.

    The racial element is strange though. Because most of the world’s Muslims don’t fit the West’s definition of “white”, critics of critics fall back on the privilege argument, as if being on the wrong side of the privilege equation protects beliefs and thought patterns instead of just people. It’s all very pomo and irrational, which is especially troubling because the people who defend Islam on privilege grounds are usually center-to-left, and normally would be more or less our allies.

    In conclusion, the whole situation is a clusterfuck that could use a lot more critical thinking.

  43. 43
    daniellavine

    “Islam is not a race” is a completely vacuous non-argument. Our concepts of race do not have any biological justification — they are pretty much entirely socially constructed. “Black” is not a race. “Asian” is not a race. Does this mean that racism against blacks and Asians are impossible? Of course not.

    Races are socially constructed through a process where the biological and ethnic realities of the world are erased to make way for essentialist categories: blacks are lazy, Asians are smart, and Muslims are savages who respond to mild criticism with threats of physical violence. When’s the last time you saw an article on “Muslim violence” or “Muslim oppression” or anything like that that bothered to draw distinctions between Pashtuns, Persians, and Arabs?

    “Islamophobia” is a useful term because it describes the process of racial construction that is ongoing, of othering all adherents of Islam and lumping them together in an essentialist category that erases the very real differences in creed and ethnicity that set them apart in the real world. It describes the sorts of simplifying assumptions (AKA prejudices) employed by people at Fox News, NRO, and — come on, let’s be honest now — entirely too many fucking atheists.

    Jesus and Mo is a badly-drawn, boring, didactic cartoon that wouldn’t elicit so much as a smirk from anyone who didn’t already agree with its thesis. It certainly doesn’t provoke any critical thinking to judge by the bleating of its fanboys here.

  44. 44
    drosera

    How many Christians were tackled for running from the scene of the Boston bombings yesterday due to perceived religious affiliation? How many Christian theocracies were bombed into oblivion for ten years because of terrorist acts committed by Christians in the US?

    Does this make Islam and its fundamentalist practitioners exempt from criticism and ridicule?

    Given that there are very few criticisms of religious believers (and that’s what this is all about, right? There’s no religion worth making fun of but for their adherents) that don’t apply in some measure to atheists as a movement, maybe that’s not a bad idea.

    It would hardly be worth the effort to mock a religion that doesn’t have adherents. But why can’t one can mock the tenets of a powerful religion and the behaviour of its more obnoxious adherents? Atheists do not stone adulterous women to death, as far as I know (and this one of many, not very few, examples that I can think of).

  45. 45
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I find it exceedingly frustrating that we—lots of us here—are incapable of having this conversation without it being a reactionary ping pong ball back and forth.

    There is racism and bigotry aimed at muslims, and a fair bit of it from within the so called “skeptical community.”

    There is also a very real, very deliberate, and very effective attempt by those with religious interests to elide criticism with “Islamophobia” and racist imperialism.

    This works very, very well on people of left-leaning sensibilities. It works awfully well on lots of Pharyngulites. This bothers me. A lot.

    I trust most people here to have a very good handle on seeing through racist shit disguised as reasonable criticism. What I don’t see is very much indication that the same people get that we’re often played (and it’s happening right now) by having our anti-racist principles used to goad us into seeing bigotry first and paying less attention to whether that’s a cynical move to deflect criticism of Islamist agendas.

    I’m not failing to name names to be slippery; I don’t want to accuse anyone of bad faith or make anyone feel unduly attacked. But I’m seeing lots of friends react almost reflexively to see racism when, in fact, there are serious, legitimate abuses of the idea to make a sectarian bunch of crap get special protection.

    We have, I think, an intellectual and ethical duty to discriminate between the two options, to call out racism where it is and to recognize when vested interests (usually men, usually theocrats) are acting like absolute scum and using “Islamophobia” as a cover. The experience of having to deal with Harris et al’s idiocy and bigotry, I think, has convinced some of us that what we would otherwise immediately recognize as theocratic privilege is actually just “racism” and “phobia.” This worries me greatly.

  46. 46
    Anthony K

    Atheists do not stone adulterous women to death, as far as I know (and this one of many, not very few, examples that I can think of)

    No, they just hound women they perceive as stepping out of line by calling them fat, ugly, prune-faced cunts engaging in witch-hunts.

    A difference, to be sure, but not one to be proud of in any way.

  47. 47
    eveningchaos

    Alverant
    I have been stewing over this all day and I think you are correct. He is semi-retired, part-time, and is on the way out of the organization anyway. I’m sure he will know exactly who it was who blew the whistle on his ignorant behavior, but principles should be strongly defended otherwise they are not principles. I guess we will see to what extent the HR department will act on this issue. I work for a branch of the Canadian Government, so Harper may just give him a medal and a promotion.

  48. 48
    Aerik

    UGH.

    You just don’t fucking get it, do you PZ?

    It’s not islamaphobia just to criticize Islam.

    It’s Islamaphobia to do things like post comics in which an Arabic man or men of a generic pseudo-all-middle-easterners caracature represents Islam itself, even though Arabs or any single ethnicity in fact comprise a minority of Muslims.

    It’s bigoted when you use words like ‘barbaric’ and ‘sand people’ or ‘desert people’ to represent Muslims 99% of the time you use those words. To use dehumanizing labels more often with religions you associate with brown folk, then those you associate with white folk.

    You. Are. Not. Listening.

    Has it even occurred to you to call out the Femen participant(s) who dress up in cliche turbans and beards in their photos? That shit is racist and needs to be called out. Instead you pull stunts like this post.

    Seriously PZ, fuck you right now.

  49. 49
    Anthony K

    Josh, I don’t disagree with anything in your comment.

    But I’ll relax my racism-detector when I have some faith that, within the skepticoatheosphere, I don’t need it set to high.

  50. 50
    mythbri

    Atheists do not stone adulterous women to death, as far as I know

    No, they just send a daily deluge of rape and death threats for a woman who said “Guys, don’t do that.”

    “But wait!” you say. “Not all atheists do that, or are like that!”

    Exactly.

  51. 51
    drosera

    There is also a very real, very deliberate, and very effective attempt by those with religious interests to elide criticism with “Islamophobia” and racist imperialism.

    Which is evidently what this cartoon is about. Its purpose is not to contribute to general fear and hate of Muslims. Some people suffer from Islamophobophobia.

  52. 52
    daniellavine

    Josh@42:

    I trust most people here to have a very good handle on seeing through racist shit disguised as reasonable criticism. What I don’t see is very much indication that the same people get that we’re often played (and it’s happening right now) by having our anti-racist principles used to goad us into seeing bigotry first and paying less attention to whether that’s a cynical move to deflect criticism of Islamist agendas.

    One serious problem with trusting most people to see through racist shit is something you yourself talk about a fair amount: privilege. Most racism that I’ve been exposed to hasn’t been the explicit and horrifying forms of racism that you see in documentaries about the civil rights movement. I’m not even exposed to that much dog-whistle racism. I’m mostly exposed to the sorts of racism that come from unexamined beliefs of people who don’t believe themselves to be racist and don’t want to be racist. Nonetheless such people get really defensive when you point out that they do, in fact, have some racist attitudes.

    Yes, Islam deserves criticism. Absolutely. But:
    1) US Muslims seem to be mostly pretty square with religious plurality and freedom of speech. Even if they don’t like it they’re willing to tolerate it as part of life here.
    2) Despite (1) Islamophobia is fucking rampant in this country.
    For me, then, Islamophobia seems like the kind of problem that affects me directly and that I can address by criticizing it whereas Islam…well…doesn’t. Islamophobia may not be a bigger problem than Islam itself in some global sense but from my perspective it’s the problem I can do the most about.

    Not only that, Islamophobia problematizes legitimate criticisms of Islam — it makes honest criticism more difficult. One nice thing that might be achieved by fighting Islamophobia is to create an atmosphere in which one can make legitimate and principled criticisms of Islam with a great deal less concern that they might be brushed aside as more instances of “Islamophobia”.

    Anthony K@45:

    But I’ll relax my racism-detector when I have some faith that, within the skepticoatheosphere, I don’t need it set to high.

    Did you mean set it to “low” to avoid red-lining or even overloading it? We aren’t talking about trace amounts here. (I know what you meant, I just wanted to make a stupid joke.)

  53. 53
    daniellavine

    drosera@47:

    Some people suffer from Islamophobophobia.

    That would imply an irrational fear of Islamophobia. I think my fear of Islamophobia is quite rational, thank you very much.

  54. 54
    Anthony K

    I trust most people here to have a very good handle on seeing through racist shit disguised as reasonable criticism.

    I don’t. Not skeptics. Not atheists. I don’t trust them.

    Its purpose is not to contribute to general fear and hate of Muslims.

    What do we say when someone brings up purpose or intent, kids?

  55. 55
    drosera

    No, they just send a daily deluge of rape and death threats for a woman who said “Guys, don’t do that.”

    “But wait!” you say. “Not all atheists do that, or are like that!”

    Exactly.

    That you can compare harassment by internet trolls with stoning women to death tells me all I need to know about you.

  56. 56
    Anthony K

    That you can compare harassment by internet trolls with stoning women to death tells me all I need to know about you.

    Sorry drosera, you’re too late. “Dear Muslima” has already been written.

  57. 57
    daniellavine

    That you can compare harassment by internet trolls with stoning women to death tells me all I need to know about you.

    Shakespeare had Romeo compare Juliet to a summer’s day. That does not imply either that Juliet is a climactic event or that a summer’s day is an anthropomorphic entity.

    Anyone who ignores the point of a comparison like that to make a moralistic “gotcha” is either an idiot or a partisan without a counterargument.

  58. 58
    mythbri

    @drosera

    That I recognize that the underlying misogyny is the same, and that atheists in general don’t condemn misogyny within their own community as much as they condemn misogyny in their religious targets? That atheists feel free to co-opt the suffering of women in other cultures to advance their own agenda, but fail to recognize the problems women have in their own?

  59. 59
    BrianX

    daniellavine:

    “Islam is not a race” is not the whole of the argument here, and it’s dishonest to say otherwise; it’s a belief system.

    It is possible to attack Islam as a belief system and not attack Muslims per se; a belief is not a person. The distinction between criticism of Islam and Islamophobia lies there. I know and respect plenty of people who have beliefs — religious and otherwise — that I don’t share and even find ludicrous, but that’s because I respect the rest of who they are, in spite of those particular beliefs. As is obvious from looking at Christianity, faith and morality (as well as one’s general worth as a human being) have no meaningful correlation.

  60. 60
    BrianX

    mythbri:

    Watch out with that broad brush there. Yes, some atheists are like that. And other atheists find those people repulsive.

  61. 61
    SallyStrange

    professional victim

    Anyone using this phrase (without irony) is hereby disqualified from participating in grown-up conversation.

  62. 62
    yubal

    Islam is a very bad religion. Second only to Judaism (book-wise).

  63. 63
    drosera

    Sorry drosera, you’re too late. “Dear Muslima” has already been written.

    In this case the exact opposite was attempted. I brought up stoning of women, mythbri countered with “But how about internet harassment?” That’s not “Dear Muslima,” that’s “Dear Rebecca.”

    It’s a lot worse than “Dear Muslima,” really.

  64. 64
    BrianX

    Aerik:

    That is not supposed to be a “generic” Middle Eastern person. That’s supposed to be Mohammed. You know, the Mo from the title.

  65. 65
    mythbri

    @BrianX

    “Broad brush” was actually my initial point, in #46.

    I understand that not all atheists are like that. There are plenty of people here who aren’t.

  66. 66
    daniellavine

    BrianX@55:

    “Islam is not a race” is not the whole of the argument here, and it’s dishonest to say otherwise;

    I didn’t say it was the whole of the argument. I merely pointed out that that specific part of the argument is a vacuous non-argument. It’s dishonest of you to imply otherwise.

    it’s a belief system.

    It’s many different belief systems. Part of my argument above was the fact that people are erasing real differences between creeds and ethnic groups to serve their own political narratives. I submit that’s what you are doing when you assert that Islam is a single monolithic belief system.

    It is possible to attack Islam as a belief system and not attack Muslims per se; a belief is not a person.

    At no point did I argue otherwise.

    The distinction between criticism of Islam and Islamophobia lies there.

    I have already argued otherwise.

  67. 67
    mythbri

    @drosera

    How about you address my original point, rather than claim that I’m pulling a Dawkins?

    Guess what? The Bible says that adulterous women need to be stoned, too. The only reason that doesn’t happen in most Western Christian nations is the tempering presence of strong secular societies and governments. In many of the Islamic countries there are no such secular forces. Islam is not fundamentally different in doctrine, but only in application – because it is propped up by theocracies in a way that (in theory) Christianity is not.

    But for an accident of geography and history, we’d be having this exact same conversation, only in reverse.

  68. 68
    drosera

    @ mythbri,

    That I recognize that the underlying misogyny is the same, and that atheists in general don’t condemn misogyny within their own community as much as they condemn misogyny in their religious targets?

    Could that be because internet harassment, deplorable as it is, pales in comparison to stoning people to death? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to condemn one in stronger terms than the other.

  69. 69
    BrianX

    daniellavine:

    Point conceded about multiple belief systems, though I’m talking about the collective whole like I would about Christianity as a collective whole. So it’s not a very useful distinction here.

    As for the rest of your post — I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Are you implying that criticism of Islam is inherently Islamophobic? Because that’s bullshit.

  70. 70
    mythbri

    @drosera

    And I didn’t say that they should be equally condemned – I’m advocating for misogyny to be consistently condemned. It’s not.

    If you’ll recall, Dawkins made the “Dear Muslima” comparison to make his case that Rebecca Watson’s concern was “zero bad.”

    Nowhere in my comments have I even implied that I think that stoning women to death is “zero bad.”

  71. 71
    drosera

    @ daniellavine,

    Shakespeare had Romeo compare Juliet to a summer’s day. That does not imply either that Juliet is a climactic event or that a summer’s day is an anthropomorphic entity.

    Shakespeare compares the effect of encountering Juliet to experiencing a summer’s day. There is a clear equivalence implied.

  72. 72
    sharkjack

    @ 65 drosera

    When one is something done by people in the community you participate in, and the other is done outside your community,largely outside your sphere of influence, and is often only brought up to flex those moral superiority muscles, then yes, condemning internet harassment in stronger terms than stoning people to death doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me. Oh wait that wasn’t what you were trying to say Drosera? It sounds to me as if you’re using that stoning people to death that others do, to trivialise what happens in the atheist/skeptic community. And yes, that is exactly what was problematic about Dear Muslima.

  73. 73
    daniellavine

    BrianX:

    Geez, dude, first you dishonestly accuse me of dishonesty and now you misinterpret my argument to mean essentially the opposite of what I said. Is there any reason I shouldn’t just completely fucking ignore you at this point?

    Point conceded about multiple belief systems, though I’m talking about the collective whole like I would about Christianity as a collective whole. So it’s not a very useful distinction here.

    Ah, but the sentiment in the cartoon does not apply to Islam as a collective whole. What sorts of criticisms could you make of Christianity or Islam as collective wholes that are actually fair to the diversity of beliefs within these religions? Probably nothing very substantial. “They believe in things for which there is no evidence” — THAT one might be fair.

    To be perfectly fucking honest I have no problem with the benign belief in Islam followed by friends and coworkers. If your blanket criticisms of Islam do not pertain to my friends and coworkers then I would really appreciate if you got a little more specific.

    As for the rest of your post — I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Are you implying that criticism of Islam is inherently Islamophobic? Because that’s bullshit.

    No. And nowhere in anything I’ve written will you actually see such a sentiment.

    Criticism of Islam and Islamophobia are not distinct. Islamophobia consists almost completely of criticisms of Islam (rather unsurprisingly) so I object to the notion that they’re distinct categories on the basis of facts about the world and basic logic.

    You want to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Islam and illegitimate criticism of Islam driven by bigotry. A noble goal but what I’ve been arguing here is that it’s not so easy to draw bright white lines between these categories in reality. For example, when you try to justify speaking about Islam as a monolithic “belief system” I worry that your criticism is shading into Islamophobia rather than legitimate criticism. Again, if your blanket generalizations don’t apply to my friends and coworkers then I think your blanket generalizations are going too fucking far.

  74. 74
    mythbri

    @daniellavine @drosera

    Actually, the comparison of “thee” to a summer’s day is in Sonnet 18, not Romeo and Juliet.

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

    Shakespeare’s narrator is comparing his subject to a summer’s day in beauty, personality and consistency.

    There’s not an equivalence, because the narrator is saying that his subject is better in these qualities than a summer’s day.

  75. 75
    drosera

    @ mythbri,

    Islam is not fundamentally different in doctrine, but only in application – because it is propped up by theocracies in a way that (in theory) Christianity is not.

    But for an accident of geography and history, we’d be having this exact same conversation, only in reverse.

    Did I ever claim otherwise? On paper Islam is not obviously worse than Christianity. The point of contention was, why are we allowed to make fun of Christianity and fundamentalist Christians, but, according to some, not of Islam and Islamists?

  76. 76
    daniellavine

    drosera@68:

    Shakespeare compares the effect of encountering Juliet to experiencing a summer’s day. There is a clear equivalence implied.

    Goddamn are you stupid.

    The point, dear fool, is that comparisons are never assumed to apply across all axes. They cannot otherwise you could only ever compare things to themselves which would rather ruin the whole concept of comparing things in the first place.

    You suggest that “some kind” of equivalence is drawn. My point was that the fact that the comparison is drawn does not imply which equivalence is being drawn.

    In the Romeo/Juliet example is the equivalence a moral equivalence? Was mythbri suggesting a moral equivalence? Or was mythbri perhaps pointing to some other kind of equivalence entirely?

    You went out of your way to draw the wrong equivalence from mythbri’s comparison so that you could reject the argument on empty, moralistic grounds instead of addressing the substance. I have absolutely no respect for that sort of “argumentation”.

  77. 77
    daniellavine

    mythbri@71:

    Argh, gotta remember that…sonnet sonnet sonnet.

    My point is that drosera dismissed your argument on moralistic grounds by misconstruing the point of your comparison. I find this rhetorical strategy infuriating. It is one thing this place and the ‘pit has in common.

  78. 78
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 61 actually it’s not supposed to be Mohammed, it’s supposed to be a body double for Mohammed.

  79. 79
    BrianX

    daniellavine:

    That’s what I hoped you meant, but your answer was really ambiguous. In any case, the next question is, how does one distinguish between bigotry-based criticism and that which isn’t? I mean, I agree with you in principle, but it does seem that a lot of people are quick to jump at assumptions of bigotry, even in cases where the person has an informed opinion on the matter, or their belief system in general is anti-religious.

  80. 80
    mythbri

    Did I ever claim otherwise? On paper Islam is not obviously worse than Christianity. The point of contention was, why are we allowed to make fun of Christianity and fundamentalist Christians, but, according to some, not of Islam and Islamists?

    Are you including me in that “some”? Because all I’ve said in this thread that criticism of Islam is NOT Islamophobia, but Islamophobia does exist and it’s important to recognize the difference between the two.

  81. 81
    mythbri

    @BrianX

    how does one distinguish between bigotry-based criticism and that which isn’t?

    I think this is exactly why these conversations get so heated, and why people get so defensive.

    My strategy is to educate myself about the colonialist mindset, and to really think through my arguments and criticisms to evaluate whether they’re based on human rights principles and what I consider to be secular values, or if they’re based on cultural prejudices that I have.

    It’s not easy.

  82. 82
    drosera

    Are you including me in that “some”? Because all I’ve said in this thread that criticism of Islam is NOT Islamophobia, but Islamophobia does exist and it’s important to recognize the difference between the two.

    No, and I agree with you here.

  83. 83
    drosera

    @ sharkjack,

    It sounds to me as if you’re using that stoning people to death that others do, to trivialise what happens in the atheist/skeptic community.

    I know which of the two makes me more angry. For the rest, you should stop attempting to read my mind. You’re not good at it.

  84. 84
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    For the rest, you should stop attempting to read my mind. You’re not good at it.

    We have to try to read your mind. Your explanations are opaque.

  85. 85
    anteprepro

    We have to try to read your mind. Your explanations are opaque.

    Dross is just being coy. Xe likes to get people straining to try to understand xir cryptic messages, and then mock them afterwards for even trying to derive meaning from the shits that xe has left on the carpet. I am just surprised that dross wasn’t the one to bring Dawkins into this, and that xe hasn’t pitched a fit about people impugning the Dawk’s moral character yet.

  86. 86
    sharkjack

    @drosera

    Well then it’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to read your mind or inferring your intentions. The point I was trying to get across, was that that was what you said sounded (I even added a ‘to me’ in there to denote that that was the way I would read that but whatever, intent isn’t magic and all that) like it trivialised what happens in the atheist/skeptic community. It is unfortunate that what we say can lend support and reinforce notions outside our own intent.

    As to which makes you angrier, I get that and it’s not really something I have a problem with. Anger can be justified and useful. I don’t really use anger to judge the relative importance of moral issues (do you?), something which I tend to avoid judging alltoghether, but I myself tend to get more angry at stuff a community I associate with does than one that I have no direct interactions with does.

  87. 87
    mythbri

    To be fair, I was the one who originally made a reference to misogyny of the atheist/skeptic community, not drosera, although I disagree with their characterization of my comment.

  88. 88
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am just surprised that dross wasn’t the one to bring Dawkins into this, and that xe hasn’t pitched a fit about people impugning the Dawk’s moral character yet.

    I’ve been waiting for that “gottcha” moment when dross tries that.*snicker*

  89. 89
    vaiyt

    @BrianX:

    The racial element is strange though. Because most of the world’s Muslims don’t fit the West’s definition of “white”, critics of critics fall back on the privilege argument, as if being on the wrong side of the privilege equation protects beliefs and thought patterns instead of just people.

    The racial element is only “strange” if you’re completely blind to the undercurrent of racism in Western opposition to Islam. A lot of the Western people who take up the task of criticizing Islam have a very simple and prejudiced of what a “Muslim” is, and that includes their appearance and ethnic origin. As a result, what we see are efforts to criticize Islam being involved in racist agendas against Middle-Eastern people (which, thanks to the aforementioned simple view, ends up becoming “people who are brown and maybe look like they could be Arabic”).

    It’s all very pomo and irrational, which is especially troubling because the people who defend Islam on privilege grounds are usually center-to-left, and normally would be more or less our allies.

    Fuck you too.

  90. 90
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Anthony K
    17 April 2013 at 3:09 pm
    Then what’s your objection to the cartoon?

    Beyond its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims, or anyone who looks like they might conceivably be one, to use Harris’ words, and in the atheoskepticsphere

    Anthony K
    17 April 2013 at 4:29 pm
    Josh, I don’t disagree with anything in your comment.

    But I’ll relax my racism-detector when I have some faith that, within the skepticoatheosphere, I don’t need it set to high.</blockquote

    Why make up pseudo-intellectual words in an attempt to add gravitas to your argument if you’re going to blow it through inconsistancy?

  91. 91
    John Morales

    Chris Clarke to truthspeaker:

    Anthony K, are you unaware of the bloggers who were arrested in Bangladesh for criticizing Islam, or the musician in Turkey who was convicted for quoting a poem by Omar Khayyam?

    That’s what this cartoon was aimed at.

    And you know it must be true, having been spoken by “truthspeaker.”

    Well, I know it’s true that the publisher claims so, because it’s explicitly stated on the page where the comic is published.

    Anthony K:

    It’s badly drawn and not that interesting as a comic.

    That would be true if comics were things unto themselves, not tools by the people making them.

    (“Couldn’t resist”)

  92. 92
    BrianX

    Vaiyt:

    Schopenhauer gambit much?

  93. 93
    Jadehawk

    because it is propped up by theocracies in a way that (in theory) Christianity is not.

    specifically, Christianity in the West. Uganda doesn’t strike me as any better than any given Islamic theocracy.

  94. 94
    BrianX

    Once again: claiming that your views are above reproach is bullshit. Claiming such because of privilege (or lack thereof) is also bullshit. Not being able to distinguish between who people are, what they believe, and what they actually do (and don’t do) is bullshit. The fact that such criticism is abused by racist assholes (along with the shit they just fucking make up) has no bearing on whether the criticism is allowed in the first place.

  95. 95
    vaiyt

    @BrianX:

    Looked that up on Google, found no results. Thanks for not addressing my response, anyway. Asshole.

  96. 96
    mythbri

    @Jadehawk

    Yes – thanks for that. I forgot to include Uganda.

    And in Catholic-controlled countries, remember that women die from lack of access to abortion, whether it be through unsafe illegal abortions, illness, or in prison.

  97. 97
    Jadehawk

    It’s all very pomo and irrational, which is especially troubling because the people who defend Islam on privilege grounds are usually center-to-left, and normally would be more or less our allies.

    In conclusion, the whole situation is a clusterfuck that could use a lot more critical thinking.

    if I hear one more person dissing postmodernism and in the same breath demand more critical thinking, I’m going to start throwing up; on their shoes first, then work my way up.

  98. 98
    Ichthyic

    because it is propped up by theocracies in a way that (in theory) Christianity is not.

    theocracy being the key word there.

    if you want to see how Christianity can foment the formation of a modern theocracy, all you have to do is look at recent bills being submitted to congress in places like North Carolina.

    likewise if you examine secular states that are predominately Muslim, you will also obviously not find a theocracy.

    lesson:

    It’s not the specific religion, but whether any specific country allows themselves to become a theocracy to begin with.

    there were xian theocracies in the past, and it’s rather obvious there is a vocal minority in the West that would love to see it happen again.

  99. 99
    vaiyt

    @Brian X, 91:

    You’ll find nobody who disagrees with you on the last part, except for one little quibble: there’s plenty of people who think just like you peddling racist bullshit. For every frothing-at-the-mouth ignorant bumpkin raging against foreigners, there’s ten buffoons who believe themselves rational and progressive while doing shit like this:

    http://jezebel.com/5993775/muslim-women-shockingly-not-grateful-for-topless-european-ladies-trying-to-save-them

  100. 100
    BrianX

    Vaiyt:

    From what I’m seeing, you seem to be saying that Islam cannot be criticized by the privileged. (I could be wrong, but that’s how I’m reading you.) There are a lot of things wrong with that argument, starting with the fact that *everything* is open to question (and therefore criticism, as it applies) to begin with. There is also argument from adverse consequences and the courtier’s reply involved, both of which are well-known logical fallacies.

    I am not defending bigotry. Criticisms should be informed; the people who see “creeping Sharia” and Muslim Brotherhood agents around every corner are making shit up and are clearly wrong. People who smear Muslims as a group are clearly wrong. People who can’t distinguish between Islam and Islamism are wrong. What I am saying is that if you’re going to profess a belief, you don’t get an automatic pass to have it not be criticized no matter what. And that’s what this is about, beliefs.

  101. 101
    BrianX

    And yes, a lot of the symbolism from the Femen protests is racist. Not maliciously so, but still racist. You will not get an argument from me on that.

  102. 102
    Acolyte of Sagan

    94.
    Jadehawk
    17 April 2013 at 6:30 pm
    if I hear one more person dissing postmodernism and in the same breath demand more critical thinking, I’m going to start throwing up; on their shoes first, then work my way up.

    But I’ve just polished them. Ah well, here goes anyhow; Incomprehensible word-salad is not critical thinking, or if it is, then it’s critical thinking disguised as incomprehensible word-salad.

  103. 103
    BrianX

    Jadehawk:

    Well, whatever it was that Derrida and friends were doing when they talked about science, anyway. If there’s a better name for it, I’ll use it, because most of it was pretentious gibberish anyway.

  104. 104
    Jadehawk

    There is also argument from adverse consequences and the courtier’s reply involved, both of which are well-known logical fallacies.

    the argument from consequences is a logical fallacy relating to the truth-value of something (“it’s bad therefore it’s not true”); pointing to consequences is not fallacious in ethics; it’s in fact necessary in ethics.
    The reason the courtier’s reply is BS is because complex arguments are irrelevant to criticism of the very premises of those arguments, since premises need to be established first. That concept also does not apply here.

    tl;dr, just because you know the name of some informal and formal fallacies doesn’t mean you can just throw them out willy-nilly and have people just accept your incorrect application of them.

  105. 105
    mythbri

    @BrianX

    Not maliciously so, but still racist.

    Right, but intent isn’t magic.

    Why would Muslims want to join in common cause with other people against Islamic extremism when the people expecting them to join in characterize them as lesser, barbaric, uncivilized, evil and/or terrorists? I don’t agree with the “Muslimah Pride” backlash against the Femen protests, but it was incredibly clumsy of Femen to cause splash damage to the very people they were trying to help.

  106. 106
    BrianX

    Actually, Derrida et al remind me a lot of transhumanist researchers. In both cases they’re storming into an existing field without bothering to do the research, assuming they’ve found something that the experts in the field are completely unaware of (or covering up). Considering how many leading members of the Derrida clique fell hook, line, and sinker for the Sokal hoax, it didn’t work out so well for them.

  107. 107
    Jadehawk

    while I’m busy throwing up bagels on your feet, howsabout you two clowns learn who established the current framework for critical thought in our society. (hint: google the name Horkheimer)

  108. 108
    Ichthyic

    From what I’m seeing, you seem to be saying that Islam cannot be criticized by the privileged. (I could be wrong, but that’s how I’m reading you.)

    you are.

    He’s very clearly saying, and using examples even, that bigotry often tries to mask itself as criticism, intentionally or not.

  109. 109
    Jadehawk

    Considering how many leading members of the Derrida clique fell hook, line, and sinker for the Sokal hoax, it didn’t work out so well for them.

    because hoaxes and frauds never happen in non-peer-reviewed magazines in other fields. okay then.

    it’s still fucking ridiculous to demand critical thought and deride those who established critical thought as a framework for looking at ideas and biases in our society.

  110. 110
    Chris Clarke

    Jadehawk:

    if I hear one more person dissing postmodernism and in the same breath demand more critical thinking, I’m going to start throwing up; on their shoes first, then work my way up.

    Seems less efficient than it could be.

  111. 111
    BrianX

    Jadehawk:

    I chose both terms for specific reasons. First off, argument from adverse consequences, because debating the validity of Islam is a question of truth and/or falsity. Courtier’s reply may be a bit overspecialized here (I think I was thinking of some specific scenarios that haven’t been spelled out), but essentially, from a nonreligious standpoint, arguing over doctrinal issues is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. If you don’t believe to begin with, and you have good reasons not to believe, debating doctrine and its effects is pointless.

    mythbri:

    True. Very true.

  112. 112
    Chris Clarke

    John Morales:

    Anthony K, are you unaware of the bloggers who were arrested in Bangladesh for criticizing Islam, or the musician in Turkey who was convicted for quoting a poem by Omar Khayyam?

    That’s what this cartoon was aimed at.

    And you know it must be true, having been spoken by “truthspeaker.”

    Well, I know it’s true that the publisher claims so, because it’s explicitly stated on the page where the comic is published.

    That comment of mine was sloppier and meaner than I would like, in retrospect. Apologies to truthspeaker, who I note has made many good contributions ’round these parts.

    Having a bad couple days. Sorry for taking it out in snark here.

  113. 113
    BrianX

    Ichthyic:

    I do agree on that point.

  114. 114
    Jadehawk

    First off, argument from adverse consequences, because debating the validity of Islam is a question of truth and/or falsity.

    honeycakes, no one claimed that Islam is valid because criticizing it has negative consequences; nor is anyone demanding that you investigate doctrinal differences before dismissing Islam as false. You’re seriously out of your depth here.

  115. 115
    Jadehawk

    Seems less efficient than it could be.

    it’s not a matter of efficiency, it’s a matter of thoroughness and duration

  116. 116
    Chris Clarke

    As regards the Sokal Hoax, let’s just say it wasn’t the devastating b;low to postmodern thought that Sokal and others make it out to be. Here, read this.

  117. 117
    BrianX

    Jadehawk:

    I’m pretty sure supporting critical thought as a required tool for daily life far predates postmodernism. In any case, the people that fell for Sokal’s hoax should have been thoroughly embarrassed because they were caught talking about science without the basic education required to understand what they were talking about. There was NO critical thinking involved for those people.

  118. 118
    BrianX

    Jadehawk:

    As I understand it, the argument is that the privileged can’t criticize Islam because they’re privileged. The question of whether it’s true or false isn’t completely relevant, except that being able to debate the point is what’s at issue here.

  119. 119
    BrianX

    Chris:

    True. And deconstruction in particular is a useful tool. But the Sokal hoax was about arrogance and scientific illiteracy, and even if it didn’t destroy postmodernism per se, it certainly said something about some of its practitioners.

  120. 120
    A. R

    Here’s something to consider: Islam and Christianity are, in their fundamentalist forms, equally bad. (Look at Uganda for an example of a Christian theocracy committing horrid crimes, and Turkey for an example of an secular state where the majority religion is Islam). Therefore, the problem is one of expression of fundamentalism within the governance of a nation/group of people, which is a function of the numbers and influence of fundamentalists within said nation/group of people. The history and roles could easily be reversed with very little change in outcome.

  121. 121
    BrianX

    *sigh* I guess I’ll flounce. It’s entirely possible that I’m not saying what I think I’m saying, among other things.

  122. 122
    vaiyt

    @BrianX:

    From what I’m seeing, you seem to be saying that Islam cannot be criticized by the privileged.

    Incorrect. That’s a fabrication of your own head that I am trying to debunk. If you actually read my damn posts as opposed to talking past me, maybe you could have grasped that.

    I’m saying that a) criticism of Islam comes far too often with racism and imperialism attached, causing damage to the very people it was supposed to help – and b) it’s also coming far too often from people on “our” “enlightened”, “rational” side.

    There is also argument from adverse consequences and the courtier’s reply involved, both of which are well-known logical fallacies.

    What the fuck does the Courtier’s Reply have anything to do with what I said?

    I am not defending bigotry.

    But you’re apparently a-okay with turning a blind eye to it, then calling people who bring it up “irrational”.

  123. 123
    BrianX

    well, one more…

    AR:

    That’s true, although I’m not sure comparing fundamentalisms is all that helpful here.

  124. 124
    BrianX

    one more one more…

    Vaiyt, what I said about not saying what I think I’m saying? That applies here I think. The “irrational” is not meant to refer to complaining about bigotry. What is irrational is when people conflate criticism and bigotry. Like I said, criticism should be informed (and reality-based). Bigotry, by definition, isn’t. So no, I am not okay to turning a blind eye to it; the line between truth and lies is usually clear-cut enough that there’s no excuse for it.

  125. 125
    Ichthyic

    it’s not a matter of efficiency, it’s a matter of thoroughness and duration

    what if it was particularly sticky and glued the victim’s feet in place while the rest was covered?

    i rather think that would indeed be efficient.

  126. 126
    BrianX

    (And yes, I am aware that it is possible to lie with facts.)

  127. 127
    Jadehawk

    I’m pretty sure supporting critical thought as a required tool for daily life far predates postmodernism.

    you’d be mostly wrong.

    As I understand it, the argument is that the privileged can’t criticize Islam because they’re privileged.

    you don’t understand it.

    The question of whether it’s true or false isn’t completely relevant

    exactly; which is why neither of your assertions of fallacies apply.

    the line between truth and lies is usually clear-cut enough that there’s no excuse for it.

    lol. if that were the case, lying would never work.

  128. 128
    yubal

    @92, vaiyt

    I think Schopenhauer Gambit refers to a logical inconsistency as found in Schopenhauer’s central publication. This term is usually used in german language and I’ve never seen it before in English. Schopenhauer made stuff up so he could logically demonstrate his idealistic philosophy based on the assumption that he made up. In brief, he said only the physical aspects of the world can be seen. At the same time humans can access the deeper sense beyond physics by intuition. It reads to me like AB for all A = B.

  129. 129
    yubal

    (Was A unequal B for all A equal B in Pascal)

  130. 130
    BrianX

    yubal:

    I was using it as a synonym for Galileo Gambit. Upon reconsidering, it apparently only made sense to me. Withdrawn.

    Also, I suck at flouncing.

    Jadehawk:

    Then what was the point of the Enlightenment, if it wasn’t in part to promote critical thought about the world?

    As for the distinction between truth and lies, the person telling the truth/lie knows, or at least should know. Bigots, as a general rule, don’t care about the difference when it comes to their intended target.

  131. 131
    Gregory Greenwood

    The problem is that there is so much noise from racists whose arguments bigotry is based upon toxic assumptions about the type of people that muslims – as some fictional monolithic block – are (the whole repugnant ‘scary brown furrin terrorists’ trope), that legitimate criticism of the systemic problems with islam as a set of religious practices – both the often really nasty suras and hadith, along with some of the less formalised social practices associated with some forms of islam – can get drowned out or written off as simply a rationalisation for underlying discriminatory attitudes.

    Every culture, social or political movement, and loose association of people will contain a diversity of individuals, and frankly some of those members will be hateful arsehats who bear poisonous prejudice against one or more marginalised groups. No group or movement is immune from this, certainly not atheist/skeptics, as we have seen repeatedly with events like the disgusting, ranting misogyny that was elicted by a simple ‘guys, don’t do that’.

    It seems clear that the various forms and sub-groupings of islam also contain their share of deeply unpleasant people. But that some people in any given group are repugnant creeps is not much of an observation; the question is whether a particular belief system or authority structure has the effect of making a bad situation worse, whether by magnifying the harm caused by those members within a larger group who harbour malign intent, entrenching injustices, inequality of outright iniquity into the society, or by creating such a toxic system of values and priorities that people feel obligated to do hideously harmful things while thinking that act ethical, ‘righteous’ or as pursuant to some notional overwhelming moral imperative.

    Islam as a religious belief system, along with christianity, judaism, hinduism and indeed most if not all religions (along with a great many secular social systems and ideologies), certainly fits the bill as a social mechanism that needlessly increases human suffering, usually in pursuit of maintaining the power and status of those that are privileged by that system at the expense of those that are not. I think that, on this basis, it is possible to critique islam without throwing mulims under the bus or engaging in racism. Afterall, it is the adherents of a toxic system of beliefs that are its primary victims.

    I think it safe, for the most part, to say that people who declare this type of criticism of what could be called the social system of islam to be islamophobic are going too far, but the second that anyone starts making broad brushstroke assumptions about the type of people muslims (as some notional singular group) are based upon the nastier aspects of the religion of Islam, then that is racism, and should be called out as such. This judgement will not always be easy to make, but I think that it can and should be attempted. The alternative is to accept that criticising the religion is indistinguishable from being prejudiced against the people, which would effectively shut down discussions of, and thus the ability to oppose, the problems some (perhaps most) forms of islam (along with many other religions and ideologies) have with things like religiously mandated misogyny and homophobia.

  132. 132
    BrianX

    Overall I have done a very poor job of expressing myself in this thread… my apologies to those whose time I’ve wasted. Dammit.

  133. 133
    ihumanist

    Nice comic, but @AvoidComments at all costs… /yawn

  134. 134
    Mobius

    Somehow, I just knew this post was going to be a Jesus and Mo. Something about a barmaid.

  135. 135
    chrislawson

    Chris Clarke @113:

    I’d take that Bérubé essay with a grain of salt if I were you. For a start, he tries to pin the blame for global warming denial on Sokal’s hoax paper, which is fairly ridiculous, and he also uncritically quotes E.O. Wilson as saying “multiculturalism equals relativism equals no supercollider equals communism” — and much as I know Wilson has a strong conservative streak I find it very hard to believe he actually said this. It is especially dubious when you trace the source of the quote back…and all the paths lead to an anti-scientific screed by Andrew Ross in The Nation in 1995, where the quote is not referenced at all other than to say vaguely that Wilson said it “in a speech in New Orleans last fall.” As it turns out, this author happened to be one of the Social/Text editors at the time of the Sokal Hoax (a fact he did not deem fit to declare to the readers of The Nation).

    Ross also seems to think it fair to equate defenders of scientific method as being in “lockstep, in style if not in influence, with the pit-bull moralizing of the Buchanans, Doles and Gramms.” As you can see, he is hardly the most reliable of respondents.

  136. 136
    Chris Clarke

    For a start, he tries to pin the blame for global warming denial on Sokal’s hoax paper,

    Um, no.

  137. 137
    Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    If you think Christianity is a “majority white” religion you’re a racist-by-reduction. A demonstration:

    Total population of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, and the Netherlands: ~100 million.

    Number of Christians in China: 100+ million.

    Number of Christians in Latin America: ~250-300 million.

    Total population of the European Union countries: 503 million.

    What you ACTUALLY mean is that Christianity is an established force in Western countries where white people are the ruling majority, and thus gets a pass from racists who hide their racism behind criticism of Islam, or who conflate Islam with race and thereby become racists.

    I think the problem with “islamaphobia” is the word itself is misleading, even in this thread its equated to racism and discrimination against people of color, we already have a word for that, its called racism.

    Yeah, that’s right. What we don’t have is a word describing generalised sectarian bigotry against the entirety of Islam that is inextricably linked to racial essentialism.

    Oh wait, we do. Islamophobia.

    Add to that the fact that “islamaphobia” is quite often used to denigrate anyone with a negative opinion of Islam and you make the word utterly useless.

    Some people – some of whom are Muslims – use the term “Islamophobe” in an attempt to silence criticism of Islam, in the same way that some Israelis use the terms “antisemite” or “Nazi” to silence criticism of Israel.

    Nobody would argue that antisemetism and Nazism still exist as discrete phenomena despite the misuse of those terms. Why the big hoo-hah about Islamophobia?

    Because you don’t like Muslims and want to continue to demonise all of the Muslims but someone called you out on it? Could that be why?

    It’s bigoted when you use words like ‘barbaric’ and ‘sand people’ or ‘desert people’ to represent Muslims 99% of the time you use those words. To use dehumanizing labels more often with religions you associate with brown folk, then those you associate with white folk.

    I highlighted the important bit.

    I entirely agree with the above statement, but it needs to be made clear the act of describing a barbaric act as ‘barbaric’ is not, in itself, Islamophobic – even supposing the barbaric act was carried out by Muslims acting in the name of Islam.

    The problem comes from being more willing to call out barbaric actions when they are committed by Muslims than you would be to call out barbaric actions committed by, for example, a Western military.

  138. 138
    Anthony K

    That comment of mine was sloppier and meaner than I would like, in retrospect. Apologies to truthspeaker, who I note has made many good contributions ’round these parts.

    Having a bad couple days. Sorry for taking it out in snark here.

    Yes, I feel I owe a similar apology. And I’m glad you said this: the general tendency of those to imbue their ‘nyms with words like ‘truth’ and ‘skeptical’ by those who seem to have the foggiest notions of what those words mean doesn’t apply to truthspeaker, in my experience.

    That would be true if comics were things unto themselves, not tools by the people making them.

    (“Couldn’t resist”)

    Smartass.

    (I think I deserved that. ;) )

  139. 139
    Anthony K

    Yes, I feel I owe a similar apology. And I’m glad you said this: the general tendency of those to imbue their ‘nyms with words like ‘truth’ and ‘skeptical’ by those who do not seem to have the foggiest notions of what those words mean doesn’t apply to truthspeaker, in my experience.

    Gah. I’m all over the map. I hope this clarifies my point that truthspeaker often is and does, in my experience.

  140. 140
    Jadehawk

    Then what was the point of the Enlightenment, if it wasn’t in part to promote critical thought about the world?

    don’t know about the point of it, but the topic of most enlightenment writing and thinking was empiricism, not critical thought (empiricism = relying on measurable data; critical thought = analysis of bias in interpreting, gathering, etc. of data)

    As for the distinction between truth and lies, the person telling the truth/lie knows, or at least should know. Bigots, as a general rule, don’t care about the difference when it comes to their intended target.

    I see no reason to believe that. Plenty of bigots believe their falsehoods wholeheartedly. They are not lying, they’re not even bullshitting. They’re telling the truth, they’re however egregiously, harmfully wrong.

  141. 141
    Jadehawk

    or rather: They’re telling the truth</del) not lying, they’re however egregiously, harmfully wrong.

    how annoying, that “truth” has two meanings: “not-wrong” and “not-false”

  142. 142
    Jadehawk

    O.o massive html-fail. take three:

    or rather: They’re telling the truth not lying, they’re however egregiously, harmfully wrong.

    how annoying, that “truth” has two meanings: “not-wrong” and “not-false”

  143. 143
    Asher Kay

    As regards the Sokal Hoax, let’s just say it wasn’t the devastating b;low to postmodern thought that Sokal and others make it out to be. Here, read this.

    Great article, Chris — thanks for sharing. I’d say the Sokal hoax was pretty devastating in the limited sense that BrianX seems to mean (as an attack against the sloppy and masturbatory thinking that was going on in postmodern thought). But Bérubé makes some good (though broader) points.

    You could say that Bérubé is really seeking a middle ground. Social facts matter in a way that neither scientists nor postmodernists have fully come to grips with.

  144. 144
    sundiver

    This cartoon reminds me of the hypocrisy exhibited by Isaac Hayes when, after South Park had poked fun at several religions, quit the show after the jab taken at Scientology. Like it’s okay to jab at everybody else’s superstition but not MINE!!! Which I think was the point the cartoon was attempting to make. However, so much invective has been hurled at anyone of Middle-eastern descent (shit I heard before the airplanes hit the buildings was pretty fucking obnoxious) that critisism of Islam is a bit of a touchy subject. Note however the cartoon didn’t fling epithets, didn’t accuse Muslims of being terrorists, it just rather pointedly observed that it’s FREEZE PEACH until you insult MY religion. I wonder how the cartoon would have been received if another superstition had been skewered.

  145. 145
    mythbri

    @sundiver

    I wonder how the cartoon would have been received if another superstition had been skewered.

    As always, it depends on the context. This cartoon is being viewed in the context of Sam Harris and Glenn Greenwald going back-and-forth about Harris’ writings about Islam, in the context of Richard Dawkins being criticized for the way he frames his criticism of Islam, and in the context of the Femen protest and the Muslimah Pride counter-protest.

    Another question to ask is whether or not this cartoon would have been drawn, if not for the recent events that form the context?

  146. 146
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Is it entirely possible for their to be one fucking thread criticizing the fundamentally bad ideas of Islam without people screaming OH MY GOD ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!elebenty!111!!!!!!!!!1!?

    Just once?

    Please?

    This comic, Anthony, attacks Christianity on even stronger terms some times, yet I’ve never once seen anyone call the author a “Christianophobe”.

    Islam has some fundamentally bad fucking ideas, especially about women. They treat women like fucking cattle. In the Middle East, with perhaps some exceptions, women are pretty much in constant danger for the crime of being born with a vagina.

    Atheists are currently being attacked and killed for the crime of being fucking atheists in Bangledesh. You should also check out Think Atheist and Atheist Nexus some time to see the stories of atheists posting anonymously on the site who are in supreme danger if anyone find out they are an atheist because they live in the fucking Middle East surrounded by fucking fanatics.

    This has nothing to do with the fucking Arab race. I don’t have any fucking problems with Muslims here in the States who are more moderate. I’m not at all afraid of “Sharia Law” creeping up in the west and it doesn’t fucking phase me to see Hallal products.

    Speaking out against the dangerous fucking atmosphere for women and atheists in the Middle East because of fucking fanatic Muslims and fucking demanding that something fucking be done about it isn’t fucking Islamophobia. It’s humanism.

    So shut the fuck up.

  147. 147
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Oh and yes, I was just as pissed off at the idiots who tackled the Saudi guy for the crime of running away from the bombing while brown. That was supremely racist bullshit.

    Actually, it’s bad, because I’m really glad he wasn’t a suspect. I was one of those hoping it wasn’t an attack by Middle Eastern terrorists because the Muslims, Sikhs, and other Arabs here in the US really don’t need any more shit from right wing racist fucks like Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party.

  148. 148
    sundiver

    I get your point mythbri, I was looking in the context of hypocrisy in general.

  149. 149
    Anthony K

    Is it entirely possible for their to be one fucking thread criticizing the fundamentally bad ideas of Islam without people screaming OH MY GOD ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!elebenty!111!!!!!!!!!1!?

    Just once?

    Please?

    It happens all the fucking time.

    Go talk about it here.

    This has nothing to do with the fucking Arab race. I don’t have any fucking problems with Muslims here in the States who are more moderate. I’m not at all afraid of “Sharia Law” creeping up in the west and it doesn’t fucking phase me to see Hallal products.

    Well, if everybody in the world was you, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all, now would we?

    Speaking out against the dangerous fucking atmosphere for women and atheists in the Middle East because of fucking fanatic Muslims and fucking demanding that something fucking be done about it isn’t fucking Islamophobia. It’s humanism.

    It’s a fucking cartoon. It’s not blowing the Islamists’ world asunder. It’s wank material for the already converted.

    Get over yourselves.

  150. 150
    Anthony K

    Actually, it’s bad, because I’m really glad he wasn’t a suspect. I was one of those hoping it wasn’t an attack by Middle Eastern terrorists because the Muslims, Sikhs, and other Arabs here in the US really don’t need any more shit from right wing racist fucks like Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party.

    And just why do you think you, me, David Sirota and undoubted others, feel glad that it, so far, it wasn’t a Muslim attack?

    Do you think it’s because Islamophobia is a real fucking thing, a real goddamn hundred-thousands-killing ten-year-war kind of thing, and that shit can get real, real fast when you have conversations in which nobody asks if maybe there’s not a twinge of actual, eliminationist racism behind it all the righteous anger?

    That’s fucking humanism too.

  151. 151
    Jacob Schmidt

    Is it entirely possible for their to be one fucking thread criticizing the fundamentally bad ideas of Islam without people screaming OH MY GOD ISLAMOPHOBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!elebenty!111!!!!!!!!!1!?

    Just once?

    Please?

    You’ll noticem waaaaayy up at the start of the thread, that the catalyst to this whole discussion was someone arguing that “islamophobia” was nothing but a silencing tactic; that it wasn’t racially motivated. You’re talking to the wrong people of you want these discussions to go away.

    Islam has some fundamentally bad fucking ideas, especially about women. They treat women like fucking cattle. In the Middle East, with perhaps some exceptions, women are pretty much in constant danger for the crime of being born with a vagina.

    Yeah. That’s true. The same thing happens Isreal and amish groups, yet a lot of islam’s critics seem oddly silent on that. Isreal is a particularly pernicious case, since it gets quite a bit of geopolitical aid from the US. Its almost like criticizing Those Brown People is more important than criticizing misogyny to some people. Go figure.

  152. 152
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Anthony, did I at any point question the existence of Islamophobia?

    Nobody is.

    It’s a real fucking thing. I usually tell people who try to deny it to watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh.

    That Saudi national being tackled? That was racism and Islamophobia.

    Here’s the difference, and why this pisses me off so much:

    Criticizing the inherent misogyny within the Quran (which I’ve read, BTW) is NOT Islamophobia.

    Demanding that women like Amina get human rights is NOT Islamophobia.

    Demanding that justice be brought for the atheists attacked and killed in Bangladesh is NOT Islamophobia.

    Noting the double-standard as the author did in this cartoon is NOT Islamophobia.

    Insisting that human rights trump cultural relativism is NOT Islamophobia.

    And all that is because CRITICISM IS NOT BIGOTRY!

    I don’t know how that can be any more clear.

  153. 153
    chigau (違う)

    fucking faze

  154. 154
    Anthony K

    Anthony, did I at any point question the existence of Islamophobia

    Don’t fuck with me. Did I, at any point, claim that:

    Criticizing the inherent misogyny within the Quran IS Islamophobia?

    Demanding that women like Amina get human rights IS Islamophobia?

    Demanding that justice be brought for the atheists attacked and killed in Bangladesh IS Islamophobia?

    Noting the double-standard as the author did in this cartoon IS Islamophobia?

    Insisting that human rights trump cultural relativism IS Islamophobia?

    And all that is because CRITICISM IS BIGOTRY!

    Did I claim any of those fucking things?

    Here’s the difference, and why this pisses me off so much:

    Then tell that person, or whatever. I’m not them.

    You’ll notice MY first comment in this thread was a response to Kevin, and Kevin’s addendum to the cartoon.

    I’m going to challenge those kinds of comments, whether you fucking like it or not.

    So shut the fuck up.

  155. 155
    sundiver

    Jacob Schmidt: I’ve been called a “Self-Hating-Jew” for critisising Israel’s treatment of Palestinians for years. Oddly enough, this has come from Christians.

  156. 156
    chigau (違う)

    Acolyte of Sagan #87
    re: Anthony K
    You’re kidding, right?

  157. 157
    Jacob Schmidt

    Sundiver

    I’ve been called a “Self-Hating-Jew” for critisising Israel’s treatment of Palestinians for years. Oddly enough, this has come from Christians.

    What the fucking fuck? Shit, are some people stupid.

    I remember a hilarious contrast (done by Rachel Maddow, I think) between how criticizing Israel is seen as almost treason in the US, yet the things for which Israel was bring criticized were things members of it’s own government were vehemently against. So yeah, stupidity abound.

  158. 158
    Jacob Schmidt

    Nate,

    Nobody is.

    Except Kevin, way up in comment 3, who says this (emphasis mine):

    Not according to Muslims…they see every single criticism of Islam as “Islamophobia”.

    Which they equate with racism. As if Islam were a race.

    It’s nothing more than a silencing tactic. Akin to the $cientologist strategy of accusing you of doing something shameful or harmful (like being a pedophile) instead of focusing on their scam.

    It’s almost like some people do deny islamophobia exists. Maybe we’re talking to them, hmmm?

  159. 159
    Crissa

    Why do we always get infested by assholes who want to wash away islamophobic actions, say ‘it’s not a race’ as if that somehow absolved the racism…

    WTF gives?

    Yeah, duh, those on the other side use it wrong. It’s not racism to criticize the Koran, but neither is it Islamophobia. But it is either to assert that the poor Saudi kid was a suspect merely because he was Saudi.

  160. 160
    mythbri

    @Nate

    Criticizing the inherent misogyny within the Quran (which I’ve read, BTW) is NOT Islamophobia.

    Demanding that women like Amina get human rights is NOT Islamophobia.

    Demanding that justice be brought for the atheists attacked and killed in Bangladesh is NOT Islamophobia.

    Noting the double-standard as the author did in this cartoon is NOT Islamophobia.

    Insisting that human rights trump cultural relativism is NOT Islamophobia.

    And all that is because CRITICISM IS NOT BIGOTRY!

    If you read the rest of the comments here (even the first one, in fact), you’ll see that many people have already stated that criticism of Islam isn’t Islamophobia, any more than criticizing Catholicism is anti-Catholic bigotry.

  161. 161
    sundiver

    Crap, I hit submit before finishing my little sporadic vacuum of thought. Accusations of anti-semitism, Islamophobia, whatever, are way too often used as a silencing tactic. But we have to realize that anti-semitism and Islamophobia are very real things, see Sam Harris on profiling (which is not only bigotry but piss-poor security policy to boot), the strife in the Balkans, the treatment of Jews in the good ol’ USA, and so on. As atheists, I think most of us here regard all religions as balderdash and yet know religious persons we respect, and don’t really give two shits about it. Hell, I’ve worked with religious people I liked, atheists I’ve loathed and agnostics I wasn’t sure about. In my time hanging out at Pharyngula I’ve read stuff from damn near everybody with which I disagreed (yes, even you, great poopyhead) but at least I smell the smoke that results from fucking THINKING. I’ve had to rearrange some of my prejudices bases on things I’ve read here and been made aware of shit I’d no idea about. Take any two of the regulars here and I’m damn sure they don’t agree on everything, be fucking boring if they did.

  162. 162
    sundiver

    Jacob Schmidt: At times, watching the human race, I’m reminded of Frederic the Great’s observation, “The more I see of men, the more I admire dogs”. Please excuse the sexism of the word “men”, this is a direct quote.

  163. 163
    yubal

    ….Sikhs, and other Arabs…

    Ehrm…what??

  164. 164
    sundiver

    Yubal: Parts of Northern India are actually sections of the Arabian Peninsula which explains the Meso-American relics found missing there; archaeologists are confused….

  165. 165
    yubal

    I was under the impression that most (original*) Sikhs were from indo-germanic ancestry and Arabs semitic people. As determined by language.

    * in contrast to Judaism and Hinduism, Sikhs openly accept converts although they do not mission aggressively as Christians or Muslims are encouraged to do by their religion.

  166. 166
    sundiver

    I didn’t know that, I thought that Sikhism originated in Punjab. Most of the Sihk temples seem to be in the Punjabi region of India.

  167. 167
    trianglethief

    This comic strip, ugh.

    What the hell is wrong with you? Do you honestly think this is funny? That all accusations of Islamaphobia are all smoke and farts and have no basis in reality?

    Fucking hell.

    If this panel ended with some joke about oversensitive ladies calling the police every time someone compliments her haircut it would be just as ‘progressive’ as this fucking drek.

    You spend so much fucking time on this lately and there’s Richard Dawkins all over twitter rambling on about evo-psych bullshit and doing actual harm to people.

    You are on the wrong fucking side.

  168. 168
    John Morales

    trianglethief:

    [1] What the hell is wrong with you? [2] Do you honestly think this is funny? [3] That all accusations of Islamaphobia are all smoke and farts and have no basis in reality?

    1. To whom do you refer by the pronoun ‘you’?

    2. I find it wry and sardonic.

    3. However did you get that impression?

    (You really don’t find that specific example specious?)

    If this panel ended with some joke about oversensitive ladies calling the police every time someone compliments her haircut it would be just as ‘progressive’ as this fucking drek.

    Leaving aside that this comic refers to actual events, no, it wouldn’t.

    You spend so much fucking time on this lately and there’s Richard Dawkins all over twitter rambling on about evo-psych bullshit and doing actual harm to people.

    Ah, so ‘you’ refers to PZ.

    (Wherefore your initial contention, then?)

    You are on the wrong fucking side.

    Weird non sequitur, that.

  169. 169
    ChasCPeterson

    the idiots who tackled the Saudi guy for the crime of running away from the bombing while brown. That was supremely racist bullshit.

    Unless it wasn’t. You are assuming facts not in evidence, you know.

    I’m really glad he wasn’t a suspect.

    um, he was a suspect. Then he got cleared. That’s the way it works.

    But it is either [racism or Islamophobis] to assert that the poor Saudi kid was a suspect merely because he was Saudi.

    um wut? That’s a mighty ambiguous sentence. But I’m pretty sure that all of the possible interpretations are wrong.

    And Morales got there first, but I am in awe of comment #164. the concentrated failage!

  170. 170
    trianglethief

    Sorry, John Morales, I won’t be replying to you. I probably won’t be replying at all – I don’t imagine anyone will be that fussed on that front because it was a fairly contentless post but I apologise for the rudeness nevertheless. I am still in the habit of coming here when I’m feeling low for a bit of a pick-me-up and just scanning the first few comments made me realise I can’t come here any longer and it caused me sudden immense pain to realise that somewhere I’ve come to read and be comforted in shitty times for so many years is just.. and I ended up posting without thinking it through.

  171. 171
    Crissa

    Re: 166 ChasCPeterson 18 April 2013 at 4:01 am (UTC -5)

    Do we really need this? This is as blatant an excusing of racism as there is. Aren’t some things beyond what we are willing to tolerate?

    There is no reason to assume one victim of hundreds running from twin blasts is a suspect. The only thing which marked him different was his skin.

  172. 172
    Eurasian magpie

    @yubal

    I was under the impression that most (original*) Sikhs were from indo-germanic ancestry

    @sundiver

    I didn’t know that, I thought that Sikhism originated in Punjab

    You are both correct :)

    Sikhism originated in Punjab around the 16th century and the majority of Punjab people speak Indo-European languages (subgroup Indo-Aryan). I hadn’t seen the term Indo-Germanic before and had to google it. Apparently it is a synonyme for Indo-European.

  173. 173
    redmann

    I’ve always been amazed, and dismayed, at the sight of skeptical liberals defending Islam. OK, not defending Islam, defending Muslims against any and all attacks as being racist and bigoted. Is it Islam that has slaughtered millions over the centuries? Was it Catholicism the burned heretics and witches? Was it Communism that killed millions of Russians and Chinese? Muslims did the slaughtering, Catholics that did the burning, Communists that did the killing. These vile belief systems are meaningless without dedicated followers to carry out their inherent evilness. So we can justifiably criticize all religions and ideologies like Communism and Fascism but this will not stop the death and destruction done in their name. It’s obvious that not all Muslims, Catholics or even Communists took part in the killing and destruction, but they provided the ocean for the evil to swim in. In some part, however small, they supported the activities of the evildoers. I personally worked with many Muslims on a daily basis. As far as I could tell none of the Muslims I knew were anything like terrorists, but they still believed that all Jews were bad. They wouldn’t buy this car or drink that drink because the Jews made them (owned the companies). I once met a German women, married to a US Army soldier, who firmly believed that the Jews had been plotting to take over the world and that’s why Hitler had to stop them. So how do we do something about the obvious evil of these beliefs while not doing something to those that hold them and those that actually do the evil those beliefs encourage? Damned if I know, invading their countries doesn’t work as Iraq and Afghanistan have shown us. Trying to “enlighten” them to our Western beliefs doesn’t seem to get very far since they don’t see that our beliefs are any better than theirs. Trying to just live and let live doesn’t work, since we, and they, believe our ideas are best and should be believed by all. This would still not be such a problem except that both sides have access to weapons of mass destruction and have shown they are quite willing to use them. So you guys can argue and split hairs over what is or is not “Islamophobia” or what is or is not racism or bigotry; people are still dying and shit is still being blown up; people are still being imprisoned for just saying something. Surely all this brainpower can come up with some idea of how to get out of this deadly embrace.

  174. 174
    Azuma Hazuki

    Islamophobia does exist, but maybe some of it is justified?

    I realize “attack Islam, not Muslims” strikes uncomfortably close to “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but it’s not a bad idea (and neither is the latter except for all its incorrect assumptions, really…it’s downright humanist for Christian thought).

    Islam is where Christianity was several hundred years ago, and thanks to continuous oppression from everyone from the Mongols to Europeans to Muslims themselves due to infighting, they never had an Enlightenment. Islam is also a lot more self-sealing than Christianity and encompasses more of a believer’s life. And the Qur’an explicitly says to kill unbelievers (though it also says not to…what would a holy book be without a few hundred contradictions, after all?).

    I think it’s good-hearted to be against Islamophobia, but also ultimately somewhat dangerous. We don’t spare Christians any slack for their horrible beliefs; why should Muslims be any different? They’re even worse in some ways.

  175. 175
    Azuma Hazuki

    (Regarding the above, yes, I know about the Islamic golden age. I specifically mean an Enlightenment along the lines of the Renaissance, with a transition into largely secular government. Yes, I also know about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Too bad that’s going to hell in a handbasket too.)

  176. 176
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I think it’s good-hearted to be against Islamophobia, but also ultimately somewhat dangerous. We don’t spare Christians any slack for their horrible beliefs; why should Muslims be any different?

    Islamophobia is unfair, inaccurate characterisations of the followers of Islam and vitriol directed at it’s followers for no reason other than their faith. Criticising Islam isn’t Islamophobia. Criticising Muslims because they’re Muslims is Islamophobia. “Islam is a religion whos doctrine and Holy Book glorifies violence and misogyny” is a fair assessment of Islam. Replace Islam with Christianity, and it’s still fair. “Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim” is Islamophobic. Replace “Muslim” with “Christian” and it becomes Christianophobic.

  177. 177
    Azuma Hazuki

    Eh, criticizing X because it is X is pointless. One needs to show why X is bad. And in this case, there is nothing inherently evil about the Muslim person, same as there’s nothing inherently evil about the Christian person; it’s the load of batshit-insane, dystheistic diarrhea that is Islam itself that is the problem. Remove the pathogen and the body becomes healthy.

  178. 178
    truthspeaker

    Anthony K

    17 April 2013 at 3:09 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Then what’s your objection to the cartoon?

    Beyond its simplistic contribution to a general fear and hatred of Muslims

    Nonsense. It was critiquing specific incidents that were in the news over the past two weeks, incidents where Islamist-dominated governments arrested or convicted people for criticizing Islam.

  179. 179
    ck

    There is no reason to assume one victim of hundreds running from twin blasts is a suspect. The only thing which marked him different was his skin.

    His attire may have marked him as different, as well, if the few pictures posted to news stories about him is any indicator.

    On the topic of islamophobia versus legitimate criticism: I’m going to say that even valid criticisms of Islam can be and often is still used for islamophobic purposes, just as legitimate criticism of Israel can be used for antisemitic purposes. I don’t think that “but it’s true” removes the xenophobic sentiment behind many of these things.

  180. 180
    chrisdevries

    If:

    1) Islam is a religion,
    2) All religions, by their embrace of the supernatural, immunity to evidence, and tendency to institutionalize the marginalization of women (frequently) and out-groups (a tendency that is worse amongst fundamentalists), are a barrier to the betterment of the world,
    and 3) Religions, and religious sects, can be placed on a spectrum from least harmful to most harmful, where the most harmful religions (and versions thereof) are the ones that cause (and fail to prevent) the greatest amount of suffering (and other harmful outcomes).

    Then one can say with some certainty that fundamentalist Islam is causing more harm to more people than fundamentalist Christianity (or any other religion). Millions live in Muslim theocracies where non-Muslims, women and LGBT individuals are treated as less than human. By definition, theocracies are a fundamentalist concept and regional polling shows that attitudes towards women, former Muslims, atheists, blasphemers, etc. in theocratic Muslim states are still stuck in the Middle Ages. Christianity has a history of such attitudes; there are still places where it is just as intertwined with a country’s political system as Islam is tied to Iran (for example), and certainly localities exist within countries (such as the USA) where fundamentalist Christians are causing a great deal of human suffering. But the scale of suffering is smaller, generally. Occasionally, a Christian psychopath comes along and murders a gynecologist, and we should be concerned about that. Still, a large majority of American Christians (even fundamentalist ones) are quick to denounce such violence, despite the fact that they agree with the cause. But when bad cartoons insult the Prophet Mohammed, only a very few Muslims are happy to denounce the calls for the deaths of the infidels who drew and published the offending artwork (and many of those who do denounce violence are nonetheless in favor of blasphemy laws which work to silence religious criticism). 9/11 may have been viewed as an atrocious act of terror by millions of Muslims, but there do exist millions more who rejoiced upon hearing the news, and thousands who actually celebrated the deaths of innocent people. Sure, Muslim leaders living in the West were keen to attribute such violence to a small minority who misinterpreted their religion, but if you actually read the Islamic holy texts, it becomes clear that the fundamentalists are the ones getting their religion right, and the secularist Muslims who are misinterpreting things.

    Yes, many people among us treat Islam as this monolithic entity, uniformly bad, when it is the extremists who are the only ones willing to take violent action against the un-Islamic. This sub-group, and those who support their actions wholeheartedly (but who are unwilling to become suicide bombers themselves) are actually the majority in many theocracies. That is not to say that moderate Muslims living in ostensibly secular nations are perfectly innocuous: the Islamic tradition is steeped in centuries of patriarchy. Christian sexism nowadays comes mostly from fundamentalists, while Muslim sexism is present throughout the spectrum. So I don’t see what the problem is in acknowledging that at this time, Islamism is clearly harming more people than Christianity.*

    The way to change this is to find ways to support Muslims who ARE willing to go on record in favor of free speech, Muslims who will defend the right of a cartoonist to draw Mohammed, Muslims who are working to reduce sexism in their communities. We will never succeed at creating perfectly secular societies without the help of people of faith. Also, Christianity’s influence on the Western world diminished as we learned more about the world; Christianity no longer has a monopoly on knowledge, and science now explains most of the mysteries that used to be attributed to the supernatural. Therefore, I believe we can do more damage to Islamic fundamentalism by building schools (secular schools) than dropping bombs.

    Fundamentalism should be our main concern when fighting religion, at least for the present, because regardless of the religion in which it it is found, it causes the most harm. It is not Islamophobia to speak out against Islamism and its followers as long as one is just as willing to attack Christian Reconstructionism and Dominionism, which are also harmful, not to mention just as untrue. One is not Islamophobic for spending more time attacking Islamism as it is causing a great deal more harm than almost all varieties of fundamentalist Christianity. It is not Islamophobia to worry more about a fundamentalism that is actually gaining adherents worldwide than one which is progressively losing power and popularity (as is the case with fundamentalist Christianity in the USA and the rest of the Western world). It IS Islamophobia to create and impose anti-Sharia laws in places where there are orders of magnitude more Christian fundamentalists than Islamists. It is Islamophobia to try to deny Muslims the same rights as everyone else (a certain mosque in Manhattan comes to mind). It is Islamophobia to treat all Muslims as second-class citizens (like in Israel).

    To me, the difference couldn’t be more clear. In fighting for a secular world we need to be rational and aware of (and willing to address) our bias and our privilege. We will succeed more quickly if we have allies in religious communities who are also fighting for secularism. Alienating these people by lumping them in with extremists is a good way to sabotage our efforts to make the world a better place.

    *Christianity may be the religion of most American politicians but it was not the primary motivation for the wars America started in the Middle East. Ideologies of capitalism and nationalism are to blame there.

  181. 181
    mythbri

    @Azuma Hazuki

    nd the Qur’an explicitly says to kill unbelievers (though it also says not to…what would a holy book be without a few hundred contradictions, after all?).

    So does the Bible, complete with contradictions.

    I think it’s good-hearted to be against Islamophobia, but also ultimately somewhat dangerous.

    I’m glad that you also think that it’s “good-hearted” to fight against xenophobic, irrational biases that lead to indiscriminate wars and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

    “They’re Muslim, they look like terrorists, therefore they must be terrorists, so it’s okay for us to deny them rights, invade their country and kill their citizens.”

  182. 182
    Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    Islamophobia does exist, but maybe some of it is justified?

    “A fear of Islam is perfectly rational if you live in a country where agents of the religion are empowered by the state to kill you if you criticise the religion.

    It seems rather…. less rational if you live in Surrey.”
    – Somegreybloke, Youtube (paraphrased)

    I realize “attack Islam, not Muslims” strikes uncomfortably close to “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but it’s not a bad idea (and neither is the latter except for all its incorrect assumptions, really…it’s downright humanist for Christian thought).

    It is a very bad idea, because a lot of people are Muslims, and by attacking Islam you make them stop listening to you.

    Criticising the effects certain interpretations of Islam cause in the real world and decrying the abuse of it by various vested interests is different from what I’d consider ‘attacking’ Islam.

    Islam is where Christianity was several hundred years ago, and thanks to continuous oppression from everyone from the Mongols to Europeans to Muslims themselves due to infighting, they never had an Enlightenment.

    Way to let the oil market and the regimes it props up off the hook there, champ.

    Oppression in the Arab world nowadays has more to do with oil market interests (which is to say, US foreign policy) and America’s need to continue supporting Israel (that started when they didn’t want to take in Holocaust refugees and continues to this day) than it does with inter-Islamic sectarianism.

    Islam is also a lot more self-sealing than Christianity and encompasses more of a believer’s life. And the Qur’an explicitly says to kill unbelievers (though it also says not to…what would a holy book be without a few hundred contradictions, after all?).

    That’s a historical record of something Big Mo said to his followers; y’know, like how in the Bible, Jesus (or God, or someone) tells his followers to drag the unbelievers from the shadows so that their swords may drink their blood? It’s that kind of thing.

    Except Islamic clerics believe that Big Mo’s actions and attitudes serve as a permanent example to every Muslim in every age, and thus interpret his command to his followers as an order to smite the necks of unbelievers.

    The main difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christian clerics long abandoned the idea that Jesus’ life and actions should be used as an example to the faithful, mainly because Jesus didn’t do much fighting whereas the Christian states did an awful lot of it.

    I think it’s good-hearted to be against Islamophobia, but also ultimately somewhat dangerous. We don’t spare Christians any slack for their horrible beliefs; why should Muslims be any different? They’re even worse in some ways.

    Nobody spares Muslims from criticism when they try to tell us our daughters should be wearing hijab if they don’t want to be raped and molested, or when they tell us that sharia law should be respected because it is ‘holy’, or when they tell us that fresh water and salt water run through each other to create potable water or whatever the fuck.

    I certainly don’t. Those are all demonstrably stupid things for anyone to say, much less believe in their heart, and people who try to defend them in public should feel bad for doing so.

    What we do try to spare Muslims from is being impeded in their daily lives by racists who hate them because of their ethnicity and upholster this hatred with generalised criticisms of Islam, or from bigots who hate Islam solely because it’s the current Big Bad of Western foreign policy.

    Problems arise when Muslims interpret criticism of their religion as personal victimisation, but that happens with every religious group. It would be a lot easier to repudiate this nonsense if people would acknowledge that Islamophobia exists, and resolved to do something about it – because while people like you remain in denial we will continue having to check ourselves when criticisng Islam in case we accidentally lend support to a bigot or a racist.

  183. 183
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    All right. So I’ve been in a bad headspace for a few days, now, and that won’t be over until school is over. So, as I said in Thunderdome, I’m checking out for a bit until I’m less stressed in general… when I get passed finals, find a job, and all that.

    Suffice it to say, my brain is not working properly right now. And yes, I did miss Kevin’s post.

    Now that I’ve read it, I want to say this before I check out to focus on school and getting out of where I am mentally…

    You know what pisses me off? It has become damn near impossible to criticise Israel. And I say that as someone who is, at least partially, pro-Israel.

    It is impossible to criticize Israel at any level whatsoever. If you happen to suggest, no matter how politely, that maybe Israel’s policies towards Gaza and its citizens could be an extreme human rights violation, suddenly you’re antisemitic. If you even consider the idea that, you know, the illegal expansion and settlement into the West Bank and other non-Israeli territories is illegal by international law and, also, a human rights violations because it often involves kicking people out of homes they’ve lived in for a long time, you are branded an antisemite and Nazi sympathizer.

    Charges of antisemitism have become a serious silencing tactic, and this is a problem.

    It’s not just a problem because people who aren’t bigots are being branded as such, but because there is real anti-Jewish bigotry out there (such as this highlighted by Jerry Coyne and followed up here). Using charges of antisemitism as a silencing tactic dilutes the meaning and implications of the word, drowning out incidents of actual anti-Jewish bigotry within a sea of legitimate criticisms.

    That man who shot up a Sikh temple? He was racist and Islamophobic.

    Those ignorant assholes who tackled that Saudi Man and the people who speculated that he was THE suspect? That was racism and Islamophobia.

    The people who are “afraid” of “creeping Shariah” in the US? Those are racists and Islamophobes.

    That FEMEN activist “demonstrating” outside a Muslim temple completely naked except for a fake beard and turban? That was racism and Islamophobia.

    That doesn’t change the fact that these things are being used as a silencing tactic. There are people calling all criticism of Islam “Islamophobia”. Like, for example, calling it Female Genital Mutilation. That’s not Islamophobia. That’s what it fucking is, by definition. And yet we have people who insist we shouldn’t call it that because it’s “insensitive” (read: Islamophobia). Using the actual word that applies to the actual practice is just being factual. (Sidenote: obviously, if a Muslim woman tells me that she is uncomfortable with the word because of reasons, I’ll refrain from using it in front of her; but that doesn’t change what it is.)

    As to my phrase “Sikhs, and other Arabs”… I’m not sure how or why the word “other” ended up in there. I was listing all those who’ve experienced actual bigotry since 9/11 from inane and ignorant bigots. I know Sikhs aren’t specifically Arabs. So sorry for that.

    Oh… and to the person who said that maybe Islamophobia is “sometimes” justified…

    No. Bigotry is never justified. Of course, legitimate criticism is not bigotry, but there is real Islamophobia and racism out there, and there is no sense in which it is in any way justified.

  184. 184
    vaiyt

    @BrianX:
    I know what you said, and to dispel all doubt you even said it more than once. Here, I’ll quote your own words back.

    The racial element is strange though. Because most of the world’s Muslims don’t fit the West’s definition of “white”, critics of critics fall back on the privilege argument, as if being on the wrong side of the privilege equation protects beliefs and thought patterns instead of just people.

    As I understand it, the argument is that the privileged can’t criticize Islam because they’re privileged.

    From what I’m seeing, you seem to be saying that Islam cannot be criticized by the privileged.

    That’s after I’ve already tried to explain my position to you twice. You decided that I and other people worried about Islamophobia are just defending the underprivileged out of some misguided reflex, and by FSM you won’t let any facts or explanation take it away from you!

    In your first post, you followed by playing the Islam-is-not-a-race book by the letter, accused us of being irrational, and then chided us for being on the wrong side of progressivism. Can you blame me for reacting badly? If that wasn’t your intention, then you did a terrible job in conveying it.



    @Chas:

    Unless it wasn’t. You are assuming facts not in evidence, you know.

    Fact: he was running away from the explosion like most everyone else.
    Fact: he was wounded by the bomb.
    Fact: he was the only person to be tackled down while other people running away wounded were helped.
    Fact: there was nothing to differentiate him from other victims besides the way he looked.

    Geez, such a logic leap to make, huh? I’m sure those people who saw the brown guy fleeing the explosion had the best of intentions when trying to turn him to the police. Everyone at Pharyngula loves intentions!

  185. 185
    chigau (違う)

    NateHevens

    I know Sikhs aren’t specifically Arabs.

    You should probably just stop mentioning Sikhs.

  186. 186
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    chigau… they were victims of a racist attack, were they not?

    Again… I’m sorry for phrasing is “Sikhs, and other Arabs”. That was incorrect.

  187. 187
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @chrisdevries

    9/11 may have been viewed as an atrocious act of terror by millions of Muslims, but there do exist millions more who rejoiced upon hearing the news, and thousands who actually celebrated the deaths of innocent people.

    You’re equating “Muslim” with “Middle Eastern”. A lot of Middle Eastern Muslims cheered because of the shit the US has pulled in that region over the years. The vast majority of Muslims the rest of the world over condemned it.

  188. 188
    Nick Gotts

    There’s a link beneath the cartoon to the persecution of atheist/secularist bloggers in Bangladesh, but I’m not clear whether the cartoon is supposed to refer to that directly e.g. whether one of the bloggers called the Quran a “philosophically vacuous fraud”. Anyone know?

    In any case, I think the cartoon is rather unfocused – it’s not clear the accusation of hypocrisy is fair. The line being pushed by those predominantly Muslim states that have repeatedly pushed non-binding resolutions against “defaming religion” through the UNCHR is that all religious sensibilities should be respected, which doesn’t agree with Mo’s attitude in the strip, that it’s OK to diss any religion other than Islam. At the time of the Satanic Verses affair in the UK, some leading Christian figures lined up with Rushdie’s Muslim detractors, and there were calls for the blasphemy laws to be extended to religions other than Christianity (fortunately, they were abolished instead). more broadly, we see interfaith campaigns against women’s rights, marriage equality, the right to die, etc. In other words, there’s a considerable history of interfaith religious authoritarianism over recent decades. Mo would more likely be sympathising with Jesus, and even the Mormons.

  189. 189
    chrisdevries

    What we do try to spare Muslims from is being impeded in their daily lives by racists who hate them because of their ethnicity and upholster this hatred with generalised criticisms of Islam, or from bigots who hate Islam solely because it’s the current Big Bad of Western foreign policy.

    Problems arise when Muslims interpret criticism of their religion as personal victimisation, but that happens with every religious group. It would be a lot easier to repudiate this nonsense if people would acknowledge that Islamophobia exists, and resolved to do something about it – because while people like you remain in denial we will continue having to check ourselves when criticisng Islam in case we accidentally lend support to a bigot or a racist.

    One can agree with non-racist arguments that happen to be argued by racists without “lending support” to them. Criticizing religion is what we do, and not a single one of the main authors who wrote anti-religious polemics in the first decade of this century focused solely, or even mainly on Islam. There are rational reasons for seeing Islam, as it is practiced today, as being a greater threat to humanity and humanist goals than other religions, but the religion itself is just as idiotic, vile and parochial as Christianity was before it was neutered by massive changes in Western society. And it is a depressing reality that within Islam, radicalism/Islamism is on the rise, whereas Christians who truly want to live in a Christian theocracy with the Bible as its founding document and guide to all aspects of life are a small minority (that is getting smaller).

    Islamophobia IS a real thing but I think it, like all racism, has two main components. Firstly, there is the overt part of Islamophobia, represented by people who are trying to deny the rights and freedoms that they enjoy to Muslims (for various reasons). I don’t see this as a major problem in our community. We are secularists, and the freedom to choose and practice a religion is important to us as long as said religious practice doesn’t infringe on others’ rights. Secondly, there is the more subtle, unconscious biases that are manifested primarily in microagressions. This can and has been a problem in our community and we must remain eternally committed to introspection so that we can identify where we’re being irrational. Anyone truly committed to a rational life should be able to troubleshoot his/her perspective to work against irrationality. To make this even harder than it already is, most of us are sheltered by our privilege. When the majority of our society shares our subconscious biases, it is that much harder to see them AS biases. So we need to be very careful.

    As for Muslims seeing criticism of Islam as personal victimization, it is true that this happens in other religions, but certainly not to the same extent. You don’t see fundamentalist Christians rioting when Richard Dawkins is in town; there are no priests putting fatwas on Kevin Smith for insulting Catholicism in “Dogma” or holy warriors stalking Philip Pullman because the religious characters in “His Dark Materials” were the “bad guys” while the people fighting the Church were the protagonists. The number of fundamentalist Christians who defend their faith with bombs and guns is far smaller than the number of fundamentalist Muslims who do so. Ultimately that is why Islam gets a bit more attention these days from atheists and anti-theists: their faith has teeth and many Western institutions would rather back down and allow some random injustice (like Sharia courts for Muslim criminals) to take place rather than risk inciting a violent mob. It is not Islamophobic to admit this, or to advocate for treating Islam as we treat all religions – not the government’s business.

  190. 190
    BrianX

    Vaiyt:

    Yes, I did double down on misinterpreting you. I should have admitted that in my first apology. But I definitely did not make myself clear, because I wasn’t quite saying what you thought I was saying. Basically, in an argument with someone I apparently mostly agree with, I self-destructed. I’m… not proud.

  191. 191
    Acolyte of Sagan

    <blockquote< 153.
    chigau (違う)
    18 April 2013 at 12:11 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Acolyte of Sagan #87
    re: Anthony K
    You’re kidding, right?

    Why would I be kidding? Neither ‘word’ appear in any of my dictionaries, and in the whole history of the internet his first word ‘atheo…’ has been used precisely four times – twice by Anthony K and twice in responses; ‘skepti…’ has been used twice; once by Anthony K, once in response. I’d say that was making up words – which is fine, by the way; new words are always needed thanks to our species’ progressive nature. All I was doing was suggesting consistancy.
    Am I missing something?

  192. 192
    Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    You’re equating “Muslim” with “Middle Eastern”. A lot of Middle Eastern Muslims cheered because of the shit the US has pulled in that region over the years. The vast majority of Muslims the rest of the world over condemned it.

    You make two very big claims here, and I don’t think either of them are correct. Some Muslims condemned the attacks. Some of them celebrated – even in places like Pakistan, which aren’t Middle Eastern, and Indonesia, which is unambiguously not Middle Eastern. Most Muslims probably had thoughts and feelings about the attacks, but were too busy doing their daily things to celebrate or condemn.

    One can agree with non-racist arguments that happen to be argued by racists without “lending support” to them.

    You can do that, but while racists are making those self-same arguments it becomes far easier for people to silence them with accusations of racism and bigotry. The ideal solution would be to put all such partisans on an island somewhere, but since there’s civil liberties and human rights (including the right for a person to have stupid opinions) we will instead have to settle for distancing ourselves from the partisans at every possible opportunity, and being as vigorous in our handling of them as we are of our handling of all the other ignoramuses and anti-education clowns who would like us all to believe silly things for ideological reasons.

    One of the ways we do this is by owning the fact that Islamophobia is real, and is never justified, no matter how abhorrent we may find the views and practises of some Muslims or the core tenets of Islam.

    There are rational reasons for seeing Islam, as it is practiced today, as being a greater threat to humanity and humanist goals than other religions

    There are no rational reasons to believe that. I defy you to provide a single one.

    And it is a depressing reality that within Islam, radicalism/Islamism is on the rise, whereas Christians who truly want to live in a Christian theocracy with the Bible as its founding document and guide to all aspects of life are a small minority (that is getting smaller).

    Islamis is not simply “radical Islam”. Militant Islamism is to Islam what Christian Identity is to Christianity. The reason Islamist militias are more active and violent than Christian Identity militias is because the Islamists have a source of funding (oil-enriched Saudis and Emiratis) and the support, implicit and in some cases explicit, of several states (including Pakistan). Remember the Orthodox Christian militias in Serbia in the 1990s? They were funded and facilitated by the state too, and look what they achieved.

    Islamophobia IS a real thing but I think it, like all racism, has two main components.

    No no; Islamophobia is not racism, because Islam is not a race.

    Islamophobia is, fundamentally, a form of sectarian bigotry comprising elements of cultural generalisations and essentialism. Sometimes it stems from racism, sometimes it begets racism, but it is not in and of itself ‘racism’. Attempting to tackle it as a problem of racial prejudice is to misunderstand the issue.

    Remember when Sam Harris said he holds white, Western converts to Islam in especial contempt since, in his view, they have no excuse for being Muslim? That’s Islamophobia with no racial element. He’s denouncing Muslims for being Muslim because of what he personally believes about Islam.

    Here’s where the real problem lies, though. The Islamophobia here is not, in Harris’ mind, racially motivated; yet the sentiment he’s expressing here is unequivocally racist. He is at once denying the agency of people who don’t belong to this demographic in suggesting that they have no choice BUT to be Muslims, because they’re all poor benighted ‘eathens who are victims of brainwashing, and at the same time suggesting that white Western people should “know better” than to voluntarily accept what he believes to be some kind of spiritual infestation. Why should they know better? Because they’re white and Western.

    As for Muslims seeing criticism of Islam as personal victimization, it is true that this happens in other religions, but certainly not to the same extent.

    If you honestly believe that I don’t know what to tell you. Go to an Orthodox Christian nation and insult the Patriarch (Eritrea would be a good choice, although Greece, Serbia and Russia also work). Maybe go to Sri Lanka and impugn Buddhism, or to India and tell Hindus that their religion is stupid and repressive, or try to preach anti-Catholicism in Mexico or Italy or Ireland.

    The specific problem I’m referring to can be seen, not just in religious groups, but political ones as well. Some Muslims interpret any criticism of Islam as an attack upon their personal integrity. Some market capitalists equate any criticism of market capitalism as an intellectually-bereft assault on their personal liberties.

    The only difference, really, between Muslim violence in response to perceived affronts and the violence of other groups in response to perceived affronts is how much attention the press pays. Dozens of people, most of them Uighar Muslims, are killed by Han Chinese mobs (and the Han Chinese military) during the Xinjiag riots and nobody makes a peep. Dozens of journalists murdered in Mexico for reporting the doings of drug cartels? Nobody gives a shit. Hundreds of people, most of them Muslims, are killed in riots over a cartoon or a film in the Islamic world and it’s all over every front page for days afterwards.

    It is not Islamophobic to admit this, or to advocate for treating Islam as we treat all religions – not the government’s business.

    You are suggesting people who repudiate Islamophobia are somehow letting Muslims “get away” with certain things, when that is manifestly not the case.

  193. 193
    chigau (違う)

    Acolyte of Sagan #87

    Am I missing something?

    Sarcasm.

  194. 194
    Delft

    The only difference, really, between Muslim violence in response to perceived affronts and the violence of other groups in response to perceived affronts is how much attention the press pays.

    No. The difference is the reason the press pays more attention: because the violence is closer to us. One dead Danish filmmaker, or one British author under a fatwa concern me more than a dozen Uighars (had to look that one up) because “it could be me”. It’s not pretty, but it’s human. I want my own society to be safe, and I want it to allow people to criticise anything under the sun, and especially to speak out against violence and oppression, without risk to their person. (I also want other societies to be safe, but admittedly, it doesn’t have quite the same priority for me.)
    .
    What I’m more concerned about, is the rise of islamophobic sentiment. Because the vaguely Arabic looking person who is suddenly suspect because of his looks – and maybe arrested, maybe beaten, who knows, maybe even killed – is also here. He might be my neighbour or my friend. I want my society to be safe for everyone to walk around in, regardless of what they look like. (All other societies too, but again, mine is slightly more important to me.)
    And right now it seems extremely difficult to even mention Islam (let alone criticise it) without stirring up Islamophobia.
    .
    I think everyone actually wants both: freedom to criticize without reprisals, and safety for the members of the group that is being criticised.
    Maybe we can stop immediately accusing anyone who is arguing for one of being “against” the other, and realise we are just prioritising these two legitimate concerns differently.
    Then we might actually move forward.

  195. 195
    Acolyte of Sagan

    190.
    chigau
    18 April 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Acolyte of Sagan #87

    Am I missing something?

    Sarcasm.

    Who’s? I’m afraid ny socioscepticoatheistiolinguistic sarcasm detector is at the menders.

  196. 196
    Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    No. The difference is the reason the press pays more attention: because the violence is closer to us.

    So what’s the excuse for prurient press coverage of rioting in Bangladesh, Nigeria, the Maghreb, Indonesia and elsewhere whenever someone makes a crude joke about Islam or threatens to burn a Koran? I suppose you could argue most of those places are PHYSICALLY closer to us than Xinjiang or Burma, but realistically it’s going to be an argument about metaphorical distance, isn’t it? The Muslims are ‘closer’ to us than the Chinese working and military classes, so therefore reporting on what Muslims do everywhere is perfectly valid.

    That is, an argument which presupposes Islam is a monolithic bloc whose passions and fervour are isotropic throughout, one that is incapable of change and should be resisted by all right-thinking individuals in whatever form it takes.

    Which is to say, an Islamophobic argument.

    One dead Danish filmmaker, or one British author under a fatwa concern me more than a dozen Uighars (had to look that one up) because “it could be me”. It’s not pretty, but it’s human. I want my own society to be safe, and I want it to allow people to criticise anything under the sun, and especially to speak out against violence and oppression, without risk to their person. (I also want other societies to be safe, but admittedly, it doesn’t have quite the same priority for me.)

    See, I can respect this position because it’s honest; this is what I care about, this is what I don’t. It is the exact same position that motivates people to scream “PALESTINE!!” every time Western citizens are killed or maimed in militant actions, however the people who scream “PALESTINE!!” tend to characterise their position as one of openness and integration with the world.

    No such delusions here. “This is what I care about, this is what I don’t.”

    I can respect that, even though I find it horrifying and disagree with it on every level – our society is part of the problem, and a great deal of suffering in the world could be alleviated if not obviated at a stroke if we were to change the way our society operates.

    What I’m more concerned about, is the rise of islamophobic sentiment. Because the vaguely Arabic looking person who is suddenly suspect because of his looks – and maybe arrested, maybe beaten, who knows, maybe even killed – is also here. He might be my neighbour or my friend. I want my society to be safe for everyone to walk around in, regardless of what they look like. (All other societies too, but again, mine is slightly more important to me.)

    If you really are concerned about that, you need to examine your own attitudes a little more closely and from a perspective other than your own.

    And right now it seems extremely difficult to even mention Islam (let alone criticise it) without stirring up Islamophobia.

    I’m saying.

    It’s not even so much “stirring up” Islamophobia. The Islamophobia is already stirred up. What it’s hard to do is engage in any meaningful discourse about Islam or Islam’s place in the world without rousing the flies from the shit-pile. Some people try and ultimately fail; these people then become one with the swarm without ever realising it.

    I think everyone actually wants both: freedom to criticize without reprisals, and safety for the members of the group that is being criticised.

    Yes, that’s exactly what white nationalist groups in the UK say they want too. The difference is in saying that you want something because it humanises you, and actually wanting something.

    Maybe we can stop immediately accusing anyone who is arguing for one of being “against” the other, and realise we are just prioritising these two legitimate concerns differently.
    Then we might actually move forward.

    That’s a very minor issue, and one whose nucleus lies at the fringes of the discourse surrounding Islam. Certain Muslims and Islamic groups are known to reflexively label all criticism as “Islamophobia”; likewise their uncritical, self-congratulating moonbat ‘supporters’ (enablers?) will cry “Islamophobia” in chorus, little realising they’re just a red reflection of the right wing nationalists and xenophobes who accuse them of being fifth columnists for the Caliphate purely because they don’t support deporting all Muslims into a box at the bottom of the sea.

    The real issue, as it so often is in debates which seek to advance the discourse on a social issue, is people being unwilling to examine their own attitudes to any particular question by stepping outside themselves and seeing the world as it actually is, not as they believe it to be. It’s a jarring experience, but once you’ve done it it becomes nearly impossible to see the world in absolutes of right and wrong anymore.

  197. 197
    erik333

    189 Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    Are you saying that muslim countries stay muslim just by freak accident? People who happen to be born in a muslim society and a muslim family tend to turn out muslims, where is the controversy? This “brainwashing” as you call it would affect them through all of their childhood, in all aspects of their lives in a society where islam is pervasive – so of course they will mostly become muslims themselves. Breaking free of religions is not easy… or so i hear, I’ve been an atheist for as long as I’ve had any vague understanding of what religions are.

    Westerners who adopt islam as adults do not have this excuse, they’ve researched islam and found that they like its teachings… or so one would assume. They’ve not been born into indoctrination.

    I see no trace of rasism in this, just anti-theism.

    Harris thinks islam is abhorrent, that is clear.

  198. 198
    chrisdevries

    I would say that Harris (and most anti-theists) think ALL religion is abhorrent; Islam may be a bit worse, but it is not the only ideology that has an extremist sub-population of adherents who are fighting hard, with whatever ammunition they can get, to slow or reverse the trend we’re seeing of increasing human rights and freedoms worldwide.

    If you honestly believe that I don’t know what to tell you. Go to an Orthodox Christian nation and insult the Patriarch (Eritrea would be a good choice, although Greece, Serbia and Russia also work). Maybe go to Sri Lanka and impugn Buddhism, or to India and tell Hindus that their religion is stupid and repressive, or try to preach anti-Catholicism in Mexico or Italy or Ireland.

    I suppose there are a few differences here. One is an issue of scale: Islamic fundamentalists may only have success at suppressing criticism of Islam and intimidating people into silence with threats of violence, in Islamic theocracies, where there are laws protecting religious sentiments, but Islamic fundamentalism has taken on global proportions, and violence often erupts at perceived insults to their faith that happen basically anywhere on Earth (and are widely publicized). It may not be enough to change the behavior of Islam’s Western critics (although the effect of extreme reactions to criticism is to make people more afraid and less likely to use powerful rhetoric in criticism of Islam) but extreme reactions to criticism of Judaism or Christianity are rarely as extreme as Islamic fundamentalists’ reactions can get, and they are far less common than violent Islamic reactions.* Fundamentalists of other faiths hit back almost exclusively with speech. Secondly is the issue of using violence as a tool. There are fundamentalists of other faiths who are prepared to use violence to defend their religion, and there have been incidents in non-Muslim majority countries where rioting has been incited over an insult to, say, Buddhism in Sri Lanka (to use your example). But you do not see a large number of, say, American Christian fundies rioting every time Sam Harris publishes an anti-religious book or goes on a speaking tour. Nobody shot Richard Dawkins with a sniper rifle when he dissed the God of the Old Testament as “the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Sure, he’d have a greater risk of ending up dead if he said that aloud in a country that is still an actual Christian nation (rather than the secular nations of Christian heritage most of us live in), but if he dissed Allah in this way, even in America (but especially while in a country of Islamic heritage), he’d basically be taping a big bulls eye on his head. The discourse on religion in Western multicultural countries rarely involves violence (northern Ireland being the exception, although even there, Catholicism is losing ground slowly but surely). Thirdly is the difference in power. Even in the ostensibly non-secular Western nations (like the UK), the Christian religion has far less (although not zero) influence in government than Islam has in places like Pakistan and Syria. It is also important to note that we are WINNING the war against religious interference in the public sphere in most Western countries: the amount of devout religious people in Canada, most of Europe, the UK and even the USA has been falling for decades. But fundamentalist Islam is gaining power in the Middle East and Africa nowadays; for example, the Arab Spring left a power vacuum that has been filled by Islamism in Libya and Egypt. Do you think we would have the same freedom to blaspheme if Islamic fundamentalists had any power in the USA?

    Now people say that much of the violence in Islamic theocracies is a result of geopolitical issues, not religion, but the people committing that violence are very clear as to why…they have been called by Allah to defend the faith and kill the infidels. Their religion condones violence against non-Muslims. Of course, the Bible condones violence against non-Christians, but like I said, the people who want to implement Biblical justice in Western nations is really quite small.

    I still believe that education is the key to progress; violence should only be used against violence when the violent solution to the problem causes less harm than the violent problem itself. Furthermore, it is important to be consistent and to treat non-Islamic religious violence the same as Islamic violence. Finally, I think overt Islamophobia actually IS a manifestation of racism; Islam may not be a race but it is a common feature amongst brown Middle Easterners, and most racists consider brown Middle Easterners to also be Muslim in every case…even though there are many different faiths present in the Middle East. Race is a part of the Muslim stereotype, and while this is stupid, it is reality.

    *It is true that Islamist violence gets more media attention than violence in the name of other religions, but it is more common nowadays than Christian or Jewish violence. Extremist Buddhists and Hindus have been known to use violence in the defense of their faith, but I cannot think of a single example of violence being initiated in response to a Western criticism of Buddhism (or Hinduism). Islamic fundamentalists have, by far, the most extreme response to criticism of religion (see Innocence of Muslims film incidents, burning Koran incidents, etc.).

  199. 199
    chigau (違う)

    Acolyte of Sagan #192

    I’m afraid ny socioscepticoatheistiolinguistic sarcasm detector is at the menders.

    See?
    You do grok it.

  200. 200
    ChasCPeterson

    There is no reason to assume one victim of hundreds running from twin blasts is a suspect. The only thing which marked him different was his skin.

    lol. Have you ever been in downtown Boston? There is nothing unusual or conspicuous about this guy’s fucking skin.

    Fact: he was running away from the explosion like most everyone else.

    You don’t know that. You seem to think that there were dozens or hundreds of people all fleeing in the same direction at the same time when the guy was stopped. got evidence?

    Fact: he was wounded by the bomb.

    so?

    Fact: he was the only person to be tackled down while other people running away wounded were helped.

    You don’t know that either.
    Plus, he was helped. The cops took him straight to the hospital.

    Fact: there was nothing to differentiate him from other victims besides the way he looked.

    And you don’t know that either.
    In fact, all the reports I have seen mention odd, furtive or overly deliberate-seeming behavior. You think they’re lies?

    Geez, such a logic leap to make, huh?

    Yeah, it’s a leap, like I said. You evidently think it’s a justified leap; I don’t.

    I’m sure those people who saw the brown guy fleeing the explosion had the best of intentions when trying to turn him to the police.

    I’m sure they did too. Have you seen all the “if you see something say something” signs over the past few years?
    In the minutes following a terorist bomb explosion, bringing shit that looks weird to the attention of police is rational, and not (necessarily) racist at all.

  201. 201
    Nick Gotts

    In fact, all the reports I have seen mention odd, furtive or overly deliberate-seeming behavior. You think they’re lies? – ChasCPeterson

    You think there’s no third alternative between accurate, unbiased accounts, and deliberate lies?

  202. 202
    ChasCPeterson

    I do not think so, no. I was asking vaiyt what s/he thought.

  203. 203
    ChasCPeterson

    I mean, I do think there are alternatives. Double negative there.

  204. 204
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Saw the picures the Boston police released of two young men they want to locate for the purpose of ‘eliminating them from our enquiries’.
    The two men were seen on cctv leaving bags with unknown contents at the two sites of the later explosions.
    The two men are incontestably very white-skinned, which doesn’t negate the possibility of them being Muslim, but it does lengthen the odds.

    In fact, all the reports I have seen mention odd, furtive or overly deliberate-seeming behavior. You think they’re lies? – ChasCPeterson

    I mean, I do think there are alternatives.

    Here’s a possible alternative explaination for his behaviour:
    Despite being white-British and able to trace my family back to the early 16thC, I am rather dark-skinned – to the extent that I have been on the receiving end of racist slurs since my schooldays (example: one of my daughters bought a young man home whan she was a teen and kicked him out sharpish when he said “You didn’t tell me your dad’s a Paki”).
    With this in mind, if I was in the vicinity of a bombing or similar, and understand the knee-jerk reactions of people at such events, I’m sure that, as a ‘dusky’ gentleman myself, my own actions would be ‘odd, furtive or overly deliberate-seeming’ too.
    Chas, I think you’re going too far in your defence of the civilians and police in this case. They fucked up, as did the media by immediately declaring the lad a ‘suspect’. The only thing that could possibly validate the actions of the police would be if they whisked him away and put him under guard to protect him from a potential lynching, but do you really think that’s what they were doing?

  205. 205
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Further to my post #204, the latest news is that after a gun-fight with police, one of the suspects is now dead, the other on the run. From what I can gather from the sketchy information released so far, the two are brothers, and are possibly Eastern European. Their motivation (if indeed it was them, they have been classed as ‘suspects’), whether religious or otherwise, is not yet known, or if it is, has not been made public knowledge as yet.

  206. 206
    Anthony K

    lol. Have you ever been in downtown Boston? There is nothing unusual or conspicuous about this guy’s fucking skin.

    Shut the fuck up with your stupid fucking mental calisthenics Chas.

    I’ve been in downtown Boston, and my skin was apparently unusual or conspicuous enough to draw inquiries from at least one local.

  207. 207
    Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    @197:

    Are you saying that muslim countries stay muslim just by freak accident?

    No; I’m saying they stay Muslim because the people within them choose to believe that Islam is their best option. Not everyone “chooses” this – it is inclucated into most of them, but nevertheless some do freely choose to believe in Islam. You denegrate their personal agency when you suggest Islam’s persistence is the result of brown people being brainwashed.

    This “brainwashing” as you call it

    That’s not what I call it. That’s what Sam Harris called it.

    Westerners who adopt islam as adults do not have this excuse, they’ve researched islam and found that they like its teachings… or so one would assume. They’ve not been born into indoctrination.

    Neither has every citizen of a Muslim-majority country; some consciously choose Islam after a long period of reflection and research.

    Is it a question of percentages? Is there some threshold beyond which we simply round everything up and therefore sweeping generalisations become valid? The West has less inculcated Muslims than the Islamic world, so we can say they have none – is that how it works?

    If it is, it shouldn’t be.

    I see no trace of rasism in this,

    Look harder.

    @198:

    I would say that Harris (and most anti-theists) think ALL religion is abhorrent; Islam may be a bit worse, but it is not the only ideology that has an extremist sub-population of adherents who are fighting hard, with whatever ammunition they can get, to slow or reverse the trend we’re seeing of increasing human rights and freedoms worldwide.

    Then why pretend Islam is the only one that’s actually a threat to us? Why pretend that violence committed by Muslims in the name of Islam is so commonplace that it would be justifiable to victimise and harrass people based on the colour of their skin or their surname?

    I suppose there are a few differences here. One is an issue of scale: Islamic fundamentalists may only have success at suppressing criticism of Islam and intimidating people into silence with threats of violence, in Islamic theocracies, where there are laws protecting religious sentiments, but Islamic fundamentalism has taken on global proportions, and violence often erupts at perceived insults to their faith that happen basically anywhere on Earth (and are widely publicized).

    I’ll be sure to watch out for violent Islamist demonstrations next time I’m in South America, most areas of North America, South-East Asia, southern Africa, the Phillipines, India, most of Europe that isn’t a Western European capital city, and pretty much all of Russia.

    Just kidding, I won’t do that, because no Islamic violence has ever taken place in any of these places and there is no rational reason to believe that it ever will.

    You may perceive the scale of Islamic violence to be global because you see a lot of it on the news and it springs up in diverse (mainly Islamic) places, but the truth is that’s just not the case.

    It may not be enough to change the behavior of Islam’s Western critics (although the effect of extreme reactions to criticism is to make people more afraid and less likely to use powerful rhetoric in criticism of Islam) but extreme reactions to criticism of Judaism or Christianity are rarely as extreme as Islamic fundamentalists’ reactions can get, and they are far less common than violent Islamic reactions.*
    *It is true that Islamist violence gets more media attention than violence in the name of other religions, but it is more common nowadays than Christian or Jewish violence.

    … and yet it happens much further away.

    Extremist Buddhists and Hindus have been known to use violence in the defense of their faith,

    Not just “in defence of” their faith, but as a means to attack people who don’t share that faith. Sound familiar?

    Saffron terror (that is, Hindu extremism) is a huge problem in India. Why haven’t you heard of it? Well, that’s the real question, isn’t it?

    but I cannot think of a single example of violence being initiated in response to a Western criticism of Buddhism (or Hinduism).

    That’s because these faiths are not criticised by the West. Ever. At no time has that ever happened.

    What do you reckon might happen if it did?

    Fundamentalists of other faiths hit back almost exclusively with speech. Secondly is the issue of using violence as a tool. There are fundamentalists of other faiths who are prepared to use violence to defend their religion, and there have been incidents in non-Muslim majority countries where rioting has been incited over an insult to, say, Buddhism in Sri Lanka (to use your example).

    No rioting has ever occured in Sri Lanka over an insult to Buddhism as far as I’m aware. What does happen is that people – usually tourists – get arrested for behaving disrespectfully towards Buddhist shrines, statuary and temples, or insulting Buddhism.

    The discourse on religion in Western multicultural countries rarely involves violence (northern Ireland being the exception, although even there, Catholicism is losing ground slowly but surely).

    The Troubles had very, very little to do with religion – the republicans happened to be Catholics and the loyalists, for reasons that are obvious if you know anything about the Church of England, Ulster loyalism, and the history of the British occupation in Northern Ireland, happened to be Protestants. Don’t get me wrong, the loyalists (and some republican groups) did engage in sectarian violence, but most of those killed by the Provisional IRA were members of the British security forces, while at least some of the PIRA’s victims recorded by CAIN as ‘civilians’ were actually militant loyalists who were not active, affiliated members of any specific loyalist paramilitary group (Lenny Murphy, for example).

    As far as Catholicism “losing ground”, I’m not sure what you mean by that. The unionist (that is, loyalist, which is to say Protestant) vote is diminishing generation by generation as the desire to buy into bigotry and imperialism ebbs away (and the remaining paramilitaries kill each other over drug turf), which suggests the nationalist (which is to say, republican) community – generally referred to as “Catholics” by people who’ve never heard of Wolfe Tone – is slowly winning at the ballot box what they didn’t with the Armalite, and there aren’t really any signs that the province is becoming less religious than it has been in the past.

    If you’re actually interested in The Troubles as anything other than a facile example of “Christian violence”, you really should read up on them. I kinda had to since I grew up just over the water from where it was happening, and my big brother spent most of my childhood deployed over there as a bomb disposal techie.

    Thirdly is the difference in power. Even in the ostensibly non-secular Western nations (like the UK), the Christian religion has far less (although not zero) influence in government than Islam has in places like Pakistan and Syria. It is also important to note that we are WINNING the war against religious interference in the public sphere in most Western countries: the amount of devout religious people in Canada, most of Europe, the UK and even the USA has been falling for decades. But fundamentalist Islam is gaining power in the Middle East and Africa nowadays;

    Why do you think that is? I’m curious.

    I tend to believe it’s because the Western-backed dictators in places like Egypt and Tunisia were so appalingly bad that people could take no more – and because we’d been backing these pigs for so long, the people in Egypt and Tunisia weren’t particularly receptive to Western offers of aid in choosing who their next leader should be.

    The stage is now set for some Saudi-funded Islamists to come along and hijack the revolution with their bullshit… and the rest is history.

    for example, the Arab Spring left a power vacuum that has been filled by Islamism in Libya and Egypt.

    The Islamists were democratically elected in Egypt and command vast popular support in Libya and elsewhere.

    Now people say that much of the violence in Islamic theocracies is a result of geopolitical issues, not religion, but the people committing that violence are very clear as to why…they have been called by Allah to defend the faith and kill the infidels. Their religion condones violence against non-Muslims. Of course, the Bible condones violence against non-Christians, but like I said, the people who want to implement Biblical justice in Western nations is really quite small.

    You’re saying those geopolitical issues are completely irrelevant? I call shenanigans. Desperate, disillusioned and downtrodden people whose fortunes have been yoked to Western interests for generations look for a cause to champion; in Islamism, they find one they’re familiar with, and throw themselves into it with abandon.

    Finally, I think overt Islamophobia actually IS a manifestation of racism; Islam may not be a race but it is a common feature amongst brown Middle Easterners, and most racists consider brown Middle Easterners to also be Muslim in every case…even though there are many different faiths present in the Middle East. Race is a part of the Muslim stereotype, and while this is stupid, it is reality.

    What you’ve just described is not Islamophobia. It’s just plain old racism sprinkled with xenophobia.

  208. 208
    erik333

    207 Fred Salvador, Onion Jumbler

    I deny the agency of “brown people” no more than i deny it in other people (which still might be more denying than you’d be comfortable with), and I’ve yet to find any indication that Harris implies that the mere fact of skin color impedes agency either – if he did, then it would be rasist.

    I don’t even understand how it would be possible for me to “choose to believe” anything, let alone how other people would go about doing it. I’m not saying that it is impossible (or even unlikely) that people can do it, I just don’t know how.

    I think “brainwashing” as a description of the indoctrination process is a bit strong, but its difficult to deny that the main contributing factor in which religion you adopt is where, when, and in which family you happen to be born.

    The quote specifically says western converts btw, as opposed to people born into the religion through no fault of their own. Any reasonable interpretation about what set of people he meant would be people not immersed in islam throughout childhood, who became convinced of the truth of islam at some later point in life.

    Conclusion: The statement is neither islamophobic nor rasist. It’s anti-theistic and denegrates the agency of people, but it does not single out “brown people” as agency-impaired compared to white people as you so slanderously suggest.

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