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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.