In case you haven’t been watching, I’ve made a number of videos about religion, and Christianity in particular. And one of the most intriguing responses I’ve received from Christians is when they say, “Why don’t you make a video about Islam?” Well, is it any surprise that I would address the most common and influential religion in this part of the world, in addition to discussing religions in general? This is such an insipid reaction that I’ve almost considered never doing any videos about Islam, just to irritate the people who would say something like that. As a substantive rebuttal, it ranks somewhere between “Hey, look over there” and “Leave Britney alone!”
It’s hard to imagine how anyone who’s actually watched my videos could come to the conclusion that I have some kind of soft spot for Islam. And for the same reason, I have to wonder why anyone who follows the Christian god would have a problem with Islam at all. Do they object to the idea of women being under the authority of men and regarded as inferior? Probably not. Do they take issue with gay people being executed or condemned to hell? Not likely. Do they disagree with religious texts that approve of slavery? Because the Bible does. Do they have a problem with polygamy? Because the Bible doesn’t. Are they outraged at the notion of killing someone for leaving their religion? I don’t see how. Are they repulsed by the thought of people being tortured forever for not following a certain faith? Please. Maybe they were just put off by that suicide attack in the name of God that killed 3,000 people. Or not.
It seems like they don’t really object to Islam because they find its beliefs to be intolerable. They have a problem with it because it’s not their religion. If it were, they would eagerly spin all kinds of excuses for this – and I’m sure they already are. But if they honestly think I’m okay with any of this when it happens to take place under the auspices of Islam, they’re sorely mistaken.
What’s even more interesting is when they pose this as some kind of dare, telling me, “I bet you wouldn’t say that about Islam!” It’s worth exploring what this is supposed to mean. Why wouldn’t someone criticize Islam? Could it be because openly attacking Islam might be seen as “uncool” in some circles? Maybe, but that’s never stopped me before. Or perhaps it’s because some people are afraid to criticize Islam due to the possibility of violent reactions. If that’s what these Christians are alluding to, it’s troubling to think of the attitudes behind such a statement.
If they presumably don’t want me saying all this about Christianity, do they wish people were just as afraid of violence from Christians? Are they looking for a de facto insulation of their beliefs from criticism by threatening anyone who disagrees? That’s really something to aspire to. When Christians are essentially claiming, “You’re only criticizing us because we won’t kill you for it!”, it raises some questions about what exactly they’re trying to say. Are they seeking praise for not reacting violently to the open debate of their beliefs in a free society? Do they think they’ve earned some kind of accolades by not committing terrorist attacks? Because this really isn’t something that’s laudable – it’s a minimal expectation for peaceful coexistence in a civilized world, and nobody deserves special honors for simply living up to that baseline standard. (“My name is ZJ, and I’m a terrorist. It’s been four weeks since my last bombing.”)
So not only is this complaint barely coherent and just blatantly disgusting in its implications, it’s also wrong: I will say that about Islam. And if drawing a picture of Muhammad, tearing up a picture of Muhammad, eating a picture of Muhammad, insulting an al-Qaeda terrorist, and calling a proposed mosque a “monument to ignorance” weren’t enough for you, I’d love to know what else I have to do. But as long as people aren’t asking to hear about Islam in good faith, I have every reason to keep poking at their faith.