Part One: The
Problem is Islam not Muslims
Due to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, America has woken up to the evil of Islam. Now that the sleepy dog has woke, it is important to emphasize that this battle is an ideological one against Islam and not a physical or personal one against “Muslims.”
Ever since 9/11, this issue has been greatly and purposely confused. Islam apologists in particular constantly confuse it. They have long accused anyone critical of Islam as being a racist. They now commonly accuse those critical of Islam of being “Islamaphobic.” This obviously parallels words such as “homophobic,” a clear accusation of bigotry. They frequently smear those critical of Islam as wanting some type of mass genocide against Muslims. Those of us who have been criticizing Islam since shortly after 9/11 have had to constantly thwart this accusation and remind others that Islam is an idea, not a race of people, and all ideas can and should be subject to criticism. A critique of Islam does not necessitate an advocacy to kill all Muslims any more than criticizing Christianity necessitates an advocacy to kill all Christians.
Now that it is becoming more socially acceptable to criticize Islam, some Islam critics are now making the battle to be one against Muslim themselves. There have been sweeping broad generalizations about what all Muslims are like. The usual accusation is that they are all savage. There have been calls to ban all Muslim immigration. There have been sentiments to completely destroy Muslim countries for the moderate Muslims’ silence can be taken as compliance with Islamic dictatorship or terrorism.
Let me make it clear, again: This is an ideological battle against Islam, not Muslims, to be had in the forum of public debate.
To be sure, Islam is a violent religion. The Koran, if you read it, will shock you. Many say all religions are violent. Please, please, read the Koran. It is not just a matter of stories of Allah killing specific infidels. The entire Koran, from front to end, is dedicated to professing the goodness of believers and the evilness of infidels. Infidels are called stupid, blind, thankless, and liars. Allah hates them and will send them to Hell where they will choke on food, have boiling water poured on their head, and have no friends. There are clear calls to fight against them; take their houses; and force them to convert, live in dhimmitude, or be killed. It’s not just a few verses here or there. It is a very clear burning hatred for infidels through and through.
Of course I realize that a “Muslim” is a person who follows the Koran. So isn’t a Muslim by definition a violent person as outlined in the Koran? Well it is not that simple.
The problem is there are too many people who self identify themselves as a Muslim while having no clue or total indifference to what is in the Koran.
Let’s thus divide Muslims into two different categories. The first type has studied the Koran intently, pondered upon it, and allowed it to be the guiding force in their lives. This person, necessarily, will either become a terrorist or at least support terrorism. The second type of Muslim is one who self identifies themselves as a Muslim but is either ignorant or indifferent to what is in the Koran. Most describe the former as a fundamentalist and the latter as a moderate.
Why would a person self identify themselves as a Muslim without having read or accepted the Koran? There are a few reasons.
One is they are illiterate and can’t read. This is the situation of the majority of Muslims. Different sources report between 60-80% illiteracy rates among Muslims. Mohammed himself was illiterate. These Muslims are thus ignorant of their religion and can only rely on what people tell them. This is something the Muslim leaders want. The illiterate Muslims often get told that theirs is a religion of peace that respects women’s rights!
The next situation is that they are literate but they just plain haven’t read the Koran. Most people, anywhere, just accept the current culture of their time. If one is born into a family that is mostly Muslim, they are very likely to also call themselves Muslim. Indeed, many Muslims see their Muslim nature as tied to their blood. One man I talked to still called himself a Muslim even though he said he was agnostic! He told me, “I can’t help how I was born.” Being a Muslim of course is a choice but that’s not how they see it.
The final situation is that they are literate, do read the Koran, but through some amazing mental acrobatics, decide to reject or evade the bulk of the Koran.
The main issue is that there are many self-identified Muslims who are decent people. To say that these people are our enemy would be erroneous.
To be sure, if any Muslim does take the Koran seriously and becomes a terrorist, they are an enemy. Their violence is to be met with violence. But until any “Muslim” becomes violent, verbally states intended violence, or sympathizes with violence, they are not the enemy.
A physical battle against Muslims would be a gigantic waste of resources. It would quickly turn into the situation of the Crusades. Islamic terrorism should be fought militarily. Islam itself must be fought ideologically only.
Broad generalizations about Muslims, i.e., attacking them personally, is a non-starter, comes across as bigotry, and is counter-productive to the cause of convincing others that Islam is evil. Most people know someone who is a self-identified Muslim and is a decent person. If you attack “Muslims” instead of Islam, most will remember this decent person who was a Muslim and simply assume you are a bigot. (I will discuss in Part II how any self-identified Muslim can become a decent person.)
These “watered-down” Muslims are the very ones who need to hear that Islam is evil. They need to be shown what their religion actually says. Lumping them altogether into one monolithic group and making derogatory statements about them does not aid in that.
There are some situations in which individual attention is not possible and statistics should guide our behavior. For instance, for airport security, due to the risk assessment of a person, people of Islamic countries should be screened more vigorously than an elderly Western woman.
Similarly, our immigration policy should not outright ban Muslim immigration but certainly, after 9/11, Islamic countries should have been given lower preference on our priority list. But this should be based on their nationality not religious preference.
Both of these measures are perfectly rational and should not be confused with bigotry.
The accusation of racism has long been a thug tactic to silence opposition. It is certainly alive and well in the debate about Islam. But this tactic only has power because people are decent people. They aren’t racists and don’t want to be accused of it, and they will go out of their way to show they are not. In this way, if a person does make it a battle against Muslims instead of Islam, I notice they very rarely have to endure accusations of racism. The person who is racist does not have to endure the attacks but the person who is not racist does. I believe this is because as soon as someone has declared their bigotry, clearly the accusation of racism has no effect. This shows that the accusation is done indeed for effect. It is not a genuine accusation. As soon as it has no effect, the accusation disappears.
However, as a decent person, I ask you to remember: the battle is against Islam not Muslims.
September 19, 2010
Read Part Two