It’s become clear to me that America’s relationship with Islam–both among those countries that fall within its civilization and its practitioners living in our country and elsewhere–has itself become a problem in our politics.  Islam, and how we are living with it, is somehow driving certain divisive issues that have fully engulfed our political landscape and I don’t see how we can debate and eventually resolve those issues without acknowledging what’s causing it.

The primary divisive issues I think Islam is driving the conversation about are Immigration, National Security, and Foreign Policy.  They feed off each other like this:

  1. We conduct an aimless and counter-productive foreign policy that turns one faction or another within the Islamic world against us.  This leads to situations like Iran seizing our Tehran embassy, 9/11, and the rise of the Islamic State.
  2. We worry that the radicalization of Muslims (which our foreign policy contributed to) is going to result in domestic attacks and so we increase security; which is perceived as singling out Muslims whether at airports, the border, or in other situations.  Then there’s Guantanamo, bugging in mosques, and NSA spying.
  3. The Islamic world becomes angry about our treatment of Muslims and we face the prospect of greater threats overseas and the prospect of attacks by homegrown jihadis.  So we go back to #1 and we then end up attacking the sources of extremism by bombing Muslim countries and killing Muslims.

And so it repeats.  We’ve been in some level of conflict with certain, radical elements of the Islamic world (some just say “Islam”) for a long, long time.  When would you say this all started?  1979 with the Iranian Revolution?  Is that fair to say?  Maybe earlier?  1967 Arab-Israeli War?  Let’s go with that since it rounds things off.  For 50 years, we’ve been going through the cycle and I don’t think we understand Muslims or their religion now any better than we did then.

I want to have a real dialogue about what we know about Islam, what we think we know, and what the future holds.  Don’t you?  Yeah, you do.  It can’t go on like it has forever and something has to change.

Depending on who you ask, Islam is either one of the great and peaceful religions of the world or it is actually an oppressive and backward totalitarian death cult or something in between.   Those who don’t believe the death cult one to be true point to the billion Muslims who live all over the world and the 3 million or so in the US who go about their business every day like the rest of us and somehow manage not to demolish their own houses whenever they sit down on the couch with their suicide vests on.  

But any honest observer has to agree that there is a movement within the Islamic world, composed of perhaps millions of people, which does hold views we consider to be backward and is willing to commit acts of astonishing violence to bring those views into reality.  Also problematic is that they are using the plain text of the Qur’an to justify those views, in a more extreme interpretation of their faith.

Here’s what I think.

I’m on the “It’s Mostly a Religion of Peace” side.  Wait, wait, guys, calm down.  Sir, stop shaking your fists like that…sir!  Let me explain.  What? No, I am not wearing a turban.  Why would you…?  Can I continue?  I believe that the overwhelming population of Muslims are probably perfectly nice people and I’m going to say that it’s a teeny-tiny number who actually want to kill us and build a world Caliphate.

It would be great if people felt reassured by that, but others would say I’m in denial.  Well, I don’t think so.  If even 15% of the 3 million or so Muslims in the US were actively interested in trying to kill the rest of us, there would be something blowing up every week.  I want to say that’s 450,000 people, or about the size of the active duty US Army.  That would be a lot of bad guys.  Can you give me that?  Sure, you can.

Are there absolutely no terrorists among them?  Oh, God no.  Just no.  There are some.  However, I do not believe that Muslims living in the US are necessarily more prone to mass violence than other demographics.  The closet case who watches some ISIS propaganda on LiveLeak and decides to shoot you at the bar is as deranged as the peckerwood Navy veteran who decides to shoot you for asking him to quit harassing brown people at the bar.  They are exactly the same.  In other words, they’re both a special breed of crazy asshole that you’re statistically extremely unlikely to encounter, no matter how many Muslims or Navy vets you’re buddies with.  Really, a crazy asshole doesn’t need any holy book to decide to kill you.  He’ll do it based on something he interpreted in an episode of Scooby Doo if it works for him.  Crazy gonna crazy.

And that’s where we come to inspiration.  What I will not excuse is that certain people in certain countries of the Islamic world, particularly the Saudis, have nurtured extremism and weaponized Islam against the rest of us for their own reasons.  The leadership in these countries made the choice to revert back to beliefs that were established and when things were just going better for the Islamic world and they believed that it was because of those beliefs that the world was a better and more orderly place.  It’s because they couldn’t figure out why things weren’t going so well  for them in the present or (more likely) they didn’t want the people to figure out that their leaders were inept and corrupt assholes that they sold them a bad, obsolete ideology disguised as a noble and old one.

“You know why your life sucks, the West has become so powerful and arrogant, and your wives are talking back?” they’d ask. “Because we quit following true Islam.  Obviously.  It’s not like we screwed up or have no idea how to run our own civilization or anything.  Quick, dump all the booze and put this hijab on your wife.  We’ll be back at the gates of Vienna in no time.  Also, we need to throw some rocks at Hashim the Sodomite.  What do you mean why?  How many?  I don’t know.  How many will it take to finish him off?”

Yeah.  Some Muslims have deliberately subscribed to these harmful beliefs and I believe in doing so, they bring themselves into conflict not just with American values, but to the other hundreds and hundreds of millions of Muslims on Earth who can live a rich, fulfilling life with their faith as it is without suppressing free thought, hating Jews, and treating women like animals.

Where this interpretation of Islam exists and where it is harming people, it should be scorned and not excused. We should be able to speak the truth about how weird, ugly, and stupid bad practices in Islam are as much as we do with the Westboro church or fringe Mormon-type sects that practice polygamy. Unfortunately, many Americans do excuse these backward behaviors in the name of multiculturalism or whatever and I think they’re doing a disservice to themselves and Muslims, the women in particular.

This is where I criticize American feminists and other progressives who have foolishly made the conscious decision to excuse Islamic cultural practices that they would absolutely never tolerate or allow to escape scrutiny if they were practiced by Protestants or Catholics.  Most specifically, I am disgusted with feminists who celebrate the hijab and have gone so far to use a hijab-wearing woman as a trademark.

There must not be any misunderstandings here.  Muslim women who wear the hijab, whether by choice or pressure, deserve absolutely no scorn, disrespect or hatred.  If you read this far and are saying to yourself, “Hell, yeah!  Screw those bitches wearing rags on their heads!”, then stop reading here and go take a walk.

Are you back?  Okay, I want you to understand that anybody who looks down upon, hassles, mistreats, or intimidates a woman because she is wearing a hijab is as much of a narrow-minded creep as the Islamist who would force her to wear one as part of a backward and badly-conceived tradition.  Muslim women who wear the hijab are totally blameless and not what I’m talking about here.  Most of them, I assume, do it for reasons of modesty or because it’s a tradition that they’re comfortable with or maybe they just like the way it looks.  I don’t know, but if a woman is wearing a hijab chances are that she’s choosing to wear it and you can respect that since it needn’t bother you.  Right?

This is a good time to remind you that I was raised in Olathe, Kansas and if there is one thing I want us to be famous for, it’s that we will confront loser bigots if they threaten decent folk right in front of us, no matter what they bring to the table.   I’m now sure we’re clear that I do not want anyone to think I’m giving anybody license to make Muslim women feel bad for wearing hijabs and that instead, I will confront anyone who does it where I feel a responsibility to intervene in the manner that’s most appropriate to the circumstances and within my means to address.  Oh, I guess I’ll do it within the confines of the law too.  Should probably say that.

With the disclaimers out of the way, I can get back to it.

Feminists who support and defend the hijab are either ignorant of its origins or gullibly believe the lies that modern Islamists are telling them that it doesn’t really mean what it always has meant.  You know how the hijab got started?  Arab men in ancient times were turned on by a woman’s hair (and some still are).  There was a fear among men that if their women were too beautiful, they might be sexually harassed by men from other tribes if they were walking around without their hair covered.  It was the same explanation used by rapey scumbags from the caravan to the frat house: “She was asking for it.  Look how revealing that outfit is.”

Where do I get that from?  The Qur’an:

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

Where it says “recognized and not annoyed” at the end, the actual context is “so those horny guys don’t see how hot our babes are and try to grab them by the pussy.”

If you still think I’m just a hatemonger, then please, please, please read this article by two Muslim feminists who provide the full historical context and all but beg Western feminists to please stop glorifying the hijab because doing so is harming the interests of Muslim women.  They explain that in these countries where fundamentalism holds sway, an uncovered appearance absolutely is still seen as evidence that a woman is sexually available, practically a whore.  If that’s tl;dr for you, then watch this quick video and see this woman’s very real fear of the consequences for daring to show her hair on the street in Iran.  One year in jail, subject to untold torments, I’m sure.

This is Patriarchal Bullshit that American feminists would never, ever allow to go unchallenged if Southern Baptists were doing it.  You know what I think of feminists who gush about how empowering for women the hijab is?  It is, to me, so bothersome that feminists do this that I wonder if there’s some sort of practical joke behind it.  Like Islamists are just trolling them to see what they can get away with in these politically correct times.  You know what?  I think they’re as ignorant and deluded as those unsuspecting women who the hosts of The Man Show tricked into willfully signing a petition to End Women’s Suffrage.  Think about how easy it is to pull off this sort of thing next time you see feminists trying on hijabs for fun.  Sorry, but the hijab doesn’t represent female empowerment, feminists.  It’s the opposite.

Even though I think the hijab is rooted in an ugly and backward tradition, I think the decision to keep it or eliminate it is for Muslims alone to make and I don’t support any type of “headscarf ban” or anything like that.  However, whenever women are forced to comply with any religious practice or tradition against their will and suffer threats or violence for refusal, I expect the offenders to be fully prosecuted under our laws.  I’m happy to respect the free choices of Muslim women and you should be too.  It’s everything those cruel, vicious men hate.

I’ll probably catch more hell for the hijab stuff than anything else on this post and the remainder is relatively uncontroversial, I think.  If you think this post is too long and don’t want to read any further, I totally understand.  The really juicy stuff is out of the way.

Point is with the whole diatribe about the hijab is that where Islam does have practices that collide with our values, that are backward, that are oppressive to gays and women, and that are harmful, we must challenge it to change instead of encouraging it in the name of diversity.  Or at least be able to make fun of it without shame.  Otherwise, if there is no harm, we leave it alone as we would any other faith.

Last part now. I’d like to know what everyone thinks the future is for Islam, its world, and our relationship with it.

In my opinion, Islam, in general and as it relates to the vast majority of its followers, is fine.  But this version of Islamism that was created by and exported from irresponsible religious leaders in the Middle East; the one that tends to be the one from which all of the lunatics who make the headlines come from is a complete disaster.  That culture developed this virus strain, then they spread it all over the world, and now it has come right back to them where it threatens their regimes and kills their people.

If it were the political and religious leaders alone that ISIS was raping and burning, I’d shrug my shoulders.  But a multitude of Muslim men, women, and children have been tortured, killed, maimed, and driven from their homes and it isn’t in the least bit funny or satisfactory.  It happened to them because enough people took the backward garbage that was coming out of that region from irresponsible fundamentalist jerkoffs to its logical extreme.  Those innocent people were just in the way and given the choice to embrace it, escape it, or die.

I think that the Greater Islamic World is sick of Radical Islam’s shit, at this point, quite frankly.  The problem is now fully in the face of the people who created it in the first place and they will have to be the ones who finally stop it or be consumed by it.  Muslims have seen what radicalization has to offer and I think they know full well that they don’t want it.  It’s going to become more and more obvious as time goes on that ISIS, and other affiliations of latently gay militants, are already dying because they have not only failed to benefit Muslims, but that the practice of their Islam primarily kills Muslims, brings nothing but suffering, and divides the faith against itself.  Muslims aren’t stupid.  Or I guess I could say that they’re not any stupider than most people.

I can see a future in which American Muslims will continue peacefully living among us, much like other minor and quirky but harmless faiths, and that without the existence of a discredited fundamentalist ideological movement fueling it from overseas, Radical Islamic Terrorism will drop off the list of things we worry about at night.

Some people may disagree with me on Islam and think I’m downplaying its propensity for violence.   To that, I say that it’s because Muslims are disposed to reject violence that Radical Islam is doomed.  They demonstrate it every day by just living their lives.  Plain Boring Islam will prevail in the Great Islamic Reformation.

I happily await being told to what degree I am either a sanctimonious doosh or a vicious hatemonger.

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kevinmkr

I think this was a typo:

“Those who [don’t] believe the death cult one to be true point “

kevinmkr

“You know why life your life sucks”

Thrill

Well, great. By RVS Standards and Guidelines, I have to delete the whole thing and start over.

Thanks for catching those early.

kevinmkr

Ha! I’m no grammar Nazi — well, not *externally* >:) — but I figure that you put a lot of time and effort into these posts. Also, I envision a high-paying position as your editor once RVS goes viral and you guys are swimming in thousands and thousands of aggregate click ad revenue. 😉

Also, you can kill this entire thread, if you’d like — I couldn’t find your current email address and had forgotten that you had handed it to me as you took your last few FB gasps…..

Thrill

No, I’m very grateful. This is one post I’ll be linking to repeatedly for years to come at times when Islam is a topic and I need to go back to one of the points I made. I’m also very much hoping that I’m proven right in the end about Islam and can use this as a see-I-told-you-so. Also, I’m expecting it to get quite a few views and want people to think I’m a diligent, long-winded jack-off, not a sloppy, long-winded jack-off. And I’m keeping the thread. I want people to know two things: first, I’m far from infallible… Read more »

A real challenge I see with Islam is the state of its theology. I’ve read quite a lot on the subject, and one thing that I have regularly noted is the consistency and purity of the more extremist interpretations, versus the more “mushy” and inconsistent theology expressed by the more numerous mainstream. As an outsider to the faith, I don’t have a lot of personal knowledge or a good internal sense of the theology, so I only know what I’ve been able to study myself. Multiple reports have discussed the exceptionally-sound theology of the extremists, and I remember one in… Read more »

Thrill

I wonder if every great religion doesn’t just have growing pains at some point. What’s been happening in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere has echoes of the Thirty Years War to me. It was a holocaust for the people that went through it, but when it ended Western Christendom more or less decided to put religious warfare aside and started the process to moderation that we enjoy today as free exercise of co-existing religions.

santino

I wonder if every great religion doesn’t just have growing pains at some point.

But at some point, as everyone else can see, you need to acknowledge that you’re an adult, and it’s just time to grow up. You can’t use that as a crutch forever.

Thrill

Absitively, Santino! I’ll go on to say that the best way to help them along is twofold: First, we make it clear that we fully welcome a peaceful and vibrant Islamic community in our countries here in the West. I believe that here they will find the freedom to question, to grow, and to promote the most wonderful evolution of their faith ever seen. Second, we need to challenge Islam to conform with universal human values instead of making excuses for abhorrent practices that harm others. The goal, I think, should be to make them feel comfortable with us and… Read more »

Judge Dredd, Pro Se

This is quite the topic, and I don’t think has one direction it travels in. 1.) The hijab: to the people who dislike Islam and point to the destructive behavior of islamists it’s a symbol of female oppression. In many cases, I’d say they’re right. However, if you compare it christianity or Judaism there are sects that place a high value on modesty in the form of garb. Orthodox Jews, and any myriad of (cultish?) splinter sects of christianity that place heavy importance on the Old Testament also might outwardly appear like a hijab wearing oppressor. I’m not saying this… Read more »

Meanwhile liberals keep excusing and enabling the fundamentalists who are anything but liberal.

Thrill

This is just fantastic! You picked up on a lot of things I deliberately left unsaid. 1. Yes, modesty garb isn’t unique to Islam at all BUT criminalizing violations of it is unique to Muslim nations, as far as I know. I’m also not aware of any other religious culture that uses violence and abuse to enforce it in countries where that religion is in the minority. The Amish, for example, would probably ask that anyone who doesn’t want to “cover up” simply to leave their community. They do not, as far as I know, compel conformity in the same… Read more »

Thrill

Best I can figure is that it’s a badly conceived idea that since Christian conservatives hate and fear Muslims and liberals hate and fear Christian conservatives, Muslim fundamentalists must be their friends.

Judge Dredd, Pro Se

Yes, modesty garb isn’t unique to Islam at all BUT criminalizing violations of it is unique to Muslim nations, as far as I know. I’m also not aware of any other religious culture that uses violence and abuse to enforce it in countries where that religion is in the minority. surely there are. I don’t think you can in one breath say someone would believe something so firmly that they not only observe it but mandate it for others, yet they’d just say “oh, well. You’re going to hell. Not me” if there were via;ations of these rules. I won’t… Read more »

Thrill

I judge the validity of any religion based on how well it meets the needs and respects the life and rights of Humanity in its greater mission to serve God or whoever. ANY religion that demands blood, mandates slavery in one form or another, deliberately promotes inequality or injustice for certain people, enriches its high priests while its followers starve, or otherwise holds back human progress and development for reasons that have long been forgotten deserves all the criticism and condemnation we can muster. There’s no moral equivalency in what you said. If Islam does things that are wrong, it’s… Read more »

kevinmkr

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a little more accepting of the broad brush, especially if I can verify that there are *some* people that I know that exhibit a certain behavior (even if I do not). With that in mind, I can say in absolute terms that I do not know a single liberal who excuses or enables fundamentalists. Maybe I live in a bubble. Or, perhaps this is an example where a few highly visible examples are defining the feelings of an entire group. I just don’t see it in my field of view.

Thrill

I think it’s the “few highly visible examples” one. I really hope nobody read into what I wrote as “ALL PROGRESSIVES AND FEMINISTS LOVE SHARIA LAW.”

That’s certainly not the case. I’ve encountered two of these types before in online discussion. One of them is the one I got the video of women trying on hijabs at the mall from a few months ago.

Feminist apologists for Muslim patriarchy definitely exist, but I wouldn’t call them common by any means. I mean, they’re a walking oxymoron.

Mashav

I think you forgot one Christian sect that requires it’s women to cover up – (visualize a Catholic nun.) Amish, Orthodox Christians, Mennonites, Mormons, it’s probably easier to make a list of ‘sects’ that don’t have an opinion of what their women should wear or how they should behave. Orthodox Jews will, indeed, attack ‘immodestly’ dressed women for walking down the street both in New York and in Israel. I am generally anti-organised religion, overall, so I can find you many examples of how all of them suck. One of the ways forward for Islam is actually to go back… Read more »

Islam could use a good case of renaissance and reformation…alas the biggest backers of this wave of violence happen to have the largest monetary reserves……..

Thrill

I’m not sure you got the point. I don’t have an opposition to modesty dress codes on their face. They don’t even necessarily have to have a religious overtone. Communist China is well-known for promoting modesty among women and they like organized religion over there about as much as you do. The Islamist dictates on this are expressly ground in the notion that if a woman isn’t complying with them, then she’s rape bait. The other aspect I have a problem with is the use of violence and coercion to enforce it modesty. Catholic nuns are a voluntary order. That’s… Read more »

Thrill

Hey, if their long-term plan for dealing with ISIS is to throw riyal bills at them and shout “Go away, go away,” I wish them the best of luck. They funded it, now they’re dealing with it.

kevinmkr

I was responding, specifically, to WVR but I think it does apply to your response. I suppose you both may be correct with regards to the few people who are out there excusing or enabling fundamentalists, as far as motivation — perhaps the enemy of my enemy is my friend to those people. But most of us consider the fundamentalists to be our enemy and I think it serves this blog well to help wade through views held by most and views held by few. A great example — there was a time when I assumed that most conservatives were… Read more »

Thrill

Well, this is where it gets tricky. The progressives I’m speaking of are few in number but they are noisy and influential. You might not meet a lot of them, but they do much to drive the national attitude. For example, I think most conservatives do not actually “hate gays”, but I’d be a fool if I said that those who favor policies that harm LGBT interests in the areas of marriage, adoption, and employment aren’t the ones with the power in the GOP. They are more influential and they get their way more often than not, even though I… Read more »

kevinmkr

Your point is on target. I’m sorry if I’m not being clear — you seem to be genuinely interested in the person-to-person interactions. In repairing the ability for Blue Man and Red Woman to relate to each other. To that end, I think it’s important to acknowledge and disassociate ourselves with the fringe on a case by case basis. A good example of this was the not-so-viral video of that teacher in Texas(?) who was caught on video pretending to shoot Trump during the inauguration. It went red hot on Facebook for a few hours until people on the left… Read more »

Thrill

I missed this one all day. Got too tied up in the Discourse thread. The Re-Humanization of Each Other is one of the primary missions of my blogging. I’ll eventually put up a whole manifesto that makes this post look concise and organized by comparison. I don’t want to destroy the Left or beat the Democrats. It isn’t even possible. You know, any collection of retarded retards can start a civil war but it takes smart, competent people to compromise and build a society, rather than destroy one. You need the best and brightest from all sides to get there.… Read more »

mashav

I absolutely got the point. You think there something fundamentally different about Islam. I am saying there there isn’t. Catholic nuns are like ZZTop Jews, a holdover from an earlier time when they were forced to dress that way. There are rules for both men and women in Islam. Men have to wear beards, women have to cover their hair. Are Muslim societies patriarchal? Sure. But the look is not specific to Islam. Google what Orthodox Christian women look like in Ethiopia. Honestly, if you want to talk about women’s issues, let’s not worry about appearances. The same societies which… Read more »

Thrill

I’ll take ONE more swing at this for your benefit by simply copy-and-pasting what I said in my last comment because I really cannot come up with anything that better responds to the same argument that you keep making no matter how many times I concede the same point. At some point, you have to learn to take yes for an answer…. Bottom line is: enforcing modesty dress codes with violence is unacceptable no matter who does it and offenders should be punished to the full extent of the law, regardless of what their holy book says they can do.… Read more »

Zurvan

At least in the case of Mormons, Men are also instructed to cover up, it’s not just women. The main LDS church hasn’t had anything to do with polygamy in over 100 years.

Thrill

Yeah, I did refer to “various Mormon sects” in an earlier comment. I know the mainstream LDS isn’t like that. There are two key areas with the modesty dress codes that I’m saying are unique to Islam. Yes, there are modesty dress codes in other religions, but to be the equivalent, they have to have BOTH in common with Islam: 1. A specific requirement within their religious scripture that identifies sexual harassment as being a primary justification for a modesty code. 2. That in practice, the modesty code is enforced with criminal consequences and violence from the community or the… Read more »

mashav

As we’ve already answered, I suggest you go read up on Orthodox Jews.

Thrill

Recommended reading material?

mashav

There are several places in the Old Testament where the veil is mentioned, which is where the nuns came from, as well. For example, Isaiah 47:2 Then there is Jeremiah 13:22 as to what you do with sinners. Google ‘tzniut’ which is the Hebrew word for modesty/hijab. Proceed at your own risk. You are about to wade into millennia of Jewish thought on the subject. The way it works, a line in the Torah (Old Testament) gets interpreted over and over again, with additional anecdotes, and interpretations of earlier interpretations by the rabbis (teachers.) Here’s an example: http://zeek.forward.com/articles/118306/ – a… Read more »

Thrill

Alright then. It’s Islam and Orthodox Jews.

mashav

you meant “orthodox Islam” and “orthodox Jews,” right?

Thrill

No. Pretty sure Muslim practitioners just say “Islam”. I didn’t think they are even allowed to say that there are different versions or grades of their faith.

Orthodox Jews do self-identify as “Orthodox Jews” and I know this from my extensive research of hearing about them on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

mashav

That’s why I didn’t capitalize it.
Don’t sell yourself short. I am sure you’ve heard about them on Seinfeld, too.

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