In both the atheism community and the wider culture there is a stream of thought that Islam is the worst existential threat to Western Civilization, since, well, ever.
While this video is representative of the genre, it is not the best, or even the most over the top, there is probably someone more shrill on Fox news at this very moment, but he does pretty much hit the high points and happened to be in my feed the other day.
For me, the most hilarious part of the video is when he says that Islam is more dangerous to the West than the Nazis or the Communists. This is completely laughable. ISIS is certainly reprehensible, but as powerful and dangerous as Nazi Germany? As scary as the Soviet Union with its nuclear arsenal? Get real please.
Don’t get me wrong, ideas can certainly be dangerous, but ultimately it isn’t really ideas that kill people. Murderous regimes have come about under all kinds of guises and ideologies. People have killed in the name of Jesus, Mohammed, Odin; for communism, socialism and capitalism. I sometimes wonder if the desire to kill comes first and the ideology comes later as cover or explanation for what people wanted to do in the first place. As of yet, Islam has not captured the full power of modern industrial state to carry out some program of world conquest, like the Nazis did in Germany.
Nazism is certainly a dangerous idea, but without the power of a state behind it you get Charlottesville, not the Holocaust. Islam is not going to “destroy the West” any time soon.
I would agree that Islam is more on the radar right now, but I don’t think there is something unique about the religion that creates terrorists. When you look around at the world at the moment the areas of the world that have failed states or people with extreme grievances fall into areas with Muslim populations. Whatever religion Pakistan, Afghanistan and Lebanon harbored would be a problem in today’s world.
In the same way, I disagree very strongly with Sam Harris (and others like him) that say that Islam poses some kind of unique threat to the world.
There are billions of Muslims in the world and most of them are like most of the Christians in the world, in that religion is but a small part of the make up of their lives. They spend most of their time just trying to feed their families with and occasional nod toward the mosque.
Are Muslims getting more conservative, literal and public with their religion? Yes, I think they are. Even here in small town Wisconsin I have seen women wearing headscarves.
But the exact same thing can be said about Christians as well, large numbers seem to be getting more conservative, literal and public with their religious observances as well. For the last 50 years they have been trying to force their religious views into public policy on abortion, contraception and gay rights.
I am also pretty sick and tired of the “Islam, religion of peace my ass” memes that go around. Again billions of Muslims go about their business not being a threat to anyone. I am no expert on the Koran, but I really do find it hard believe that it has any more violent or stupid laws or incidents than the Bible does. And even if it does, most Muslims in most countries ignore that stuff just as easily as most Christians ignore the need to be stoning people for various “offenses.”
Some of the Islamic Alarmists point to the fact that Muslims will probably outnumber Christians in the next 50 years or so. OMG they are converting the world! Well, actually no. Being that Muslim countries tend to be poor (and Asian, believe it or not) they are simply out reproducing Christians at the moment. Oh and the largest populations of Muslims are going to be in Indonesia and India. Countries we worry about all the time, right?
Now, it is certainly understandable that Fox news is going to continue to demonize and overhype the Muslim threat to “Western Civilization.” That’s what they do.
I wish though, that actual smart people, like Sam Harris, would get off the idea that Islam poses some kind of unique threat. It doesn’t. It is the same as pretty much any other religion. The really ironic thing is that conservative Christians and Muslims agree much more than they disagree.
Both oppose evolution, reproductive rights, women’s rights and secularism. Both feel that they understand exactly what is in the mind of god and that it is their duty to impose the “will of god” on everyone through a theocratic government.
All of that is dangerous and needs to be opposed, no matter which god or “holy book” is behind it.