Islamophobia: Mental Illness or Political Bias?

Woman in white hijab is canned by masked person by form of punishment

To criticize Islam — or even Islamic terrorism — puts one at risk for being labeled “Islamophobic.” In Canada and elsewhere, there are laws against expressing opinions the authorities consider to be “Islamophobic.” I’d like to coin my own disease label, in self-defense: Muslim Terrorist Excuse Syndrome.

Let’s play a game. How many faulty assumptions, evasions, smuggled-in premises, errors and examples of faulty logic can you find in the following quotation in response to a discussion generated by an article of mine on Muslim terrorism?

How many of you have read the Koran? How many of you have conversed with a Muslim? How many of you have visited a mosque? I have many Muslim friends (and relatives) and none of them have tried to force their religion on me or tried to kill me. Islam is a peaceful and beautiful religion (I am a Christian) and Muslims who are truly practicing their religion are not preaching killing or death to non-Muslims. Their belief is that if one innocent person is killed, it’s as if all innocent people are killed. Terrorists kill in the “name” of Islam, but that is not what Islam teaches. Remember the American terrorists, Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones, David Koresh, the KKK, religious terrorists; none whom were called Christian terrorists. Why is that? Let’s call a terrorist a terrorist and stop calling them Islamic terrorists because these terrorists are not practicing their religion.

OK. Let’s look a little closer:

“How many of you have read the Koran?”

The faulty premise here is that the Koran is an intelligible document. Like the Christian Bible, it’s a contradictory document of conflicting principles grounded in uncritical faith.

It would make sense to recommend reading a scientific or other logical document so you can then logically evaluate the truth or falsehood of the arguments within. But a completely faith-based book or document is outside the province of reason. Yet this person invites you to read the document for yourself, so that you may then employ logic and reason to the subject. Impossible.

“How many of you have conversed with a Muslim?”

The premise here is that if you talk with a Muslim, you will find that person to be reasonable. Because of this fact, you will then have to ignore important and relevant factors.

For example, consider the naïve assumption that this Muslim might be reasonable in one area (organizing a bank account, sweeping a floor, driving a car) and therefore will be reasonable in other or all areas (e.g., faith-based adherence to a supernatural entity at any cost).

It’s an easily observable fact that many people can be reasonable in one context, and unreasonable in another. This is particularly true when it comes to religion. Why is talking to a Muslim, or even a thousand Muslims, and finding each to be reasonable in one context supposed to prove reasonable mindsets in all others?

From the implied assumptions of this question, you’d expect to talk with any Muslim at random and hear him or her say, “I abhor all that violence. It could not have less to do with my religion.” While there probably are some Muslims who feel this way, what reason exists to think that most or many will feel this way?

If that were the case wouldn’t there be widely visible, active and articulate movements worldwide of moderate, nonviolent Muslims in opposition to the terrorist minority? Where are they?

This question, like the first one, is intended to intimidate. You’re supposed to reply, “No, I haven’t read the Koran. I don’t know any particular Muslim. Therefore, I am unable to pass any judgment on 9/11 or any other act of violence done in the name of Islam.”

I have a hunch that this Muslim-defending person is a political leftist, since Muslim apologists almost always are. If that’s correct, she probably opposes the movements of Christian fundamentalists in the United States who seek to outlaw abortion and gay marriage, based upon their interpretation of religious scriptures. I’ll bet she doesn’t hesitate to draw conclusions about the validity or justice of those fundamentalist Christian movements, and I’ll bet she doesn’t hesitate to draw those conclusions with or without a direct reading of Christian fundamentalist documents, including but not limited to the Bible (which, like the Koran, is an ancient document filled with contradictions and self-refutations).

She probably will say something like, “I oppose anti-abortion movements because I believe reproduction is a woman’s right to choose.” If someone tried to intimidate her out of this position by asking things like, “Have you ever met a Christian fundamentalist?” or, better yet, “Have you ever talked to a woman after she had an abortion?” she would reject these claims as irrelevant.

I’m not suggesting that she should interpret those claims by the Christian fundamentalist seeking to intimidate any other way. But by what logical premise does she expect you or me, who draw conclusions about the actions of fundamentalist Muslims on a regular basis, to be stopped by the perhaps likable or reasonable qualities displayed (at least verbally) by an individual Muslim in any particular case? We’re back to the fact that people can be perfectly reasonable in one context, and not in another.

The same could be said about Nazi Germany or Communism. You could enter such a society and conclude that on the surface, in key respects, people were acting in reasonable ways, and were not mindless brutes. Does this prove that Communism or Nazism is a superior – or at least equal – social system to one of freedom and property rights? Or does it simply involve a superficial analysis?

Of course, the person asking these questions probably hasn’t considered them. Her questions serve purely to induce guilt or some other form of intellectual intimidation. She doesn’t like the fact that some people are critical of Islam, and blame much of the world’s dangerous terrorism on the growth and spread of this religion, particularly the fundamentalist activist version. So she shoots back with emotions to quiet her own inner fear, anger or lack of rational response to the criticisms raised.

“I have many Muslim friends and relatives, and none of them have tried to force their religion on me or tried to kill me.”

This is hardly a scientific sample. By definition, any Muslim who befriends a non-Muslim is a moderate or liberal, even secular Muslim. There’s nothing about the religion that fosters secularism, but it’s probably true that some Muslims are born into the religion and adapt it as part of their individual cultural identity, while dropping the fundamentalist tenets they dislike.

It’s possible that they have left their home countries because they prefer the separation of church and state, economic development and other individual liberties available to them in the United States.

Exactly how do we generalize from the fact that she has Muslim friends who do not seek to kill her, therefore Islam is not a worldwide religion dominated by religious leaders who actively engage not just in self-protection, but in the active destruction of infidels worldwide?

Does the fact that her own personal Muslim friends do not engage in “holy war” against her personally prove that there’s not a “holy war” going on throughout the world, including in the United States when there are instances of Islamic-based terrorism?

Does she know for certain that they’re not sympathetic to some of these terrorist actions fostered by Islam? Should we ignore Islamic-based terrorism and not fight back? Or should we fight back, while pretending that it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion – even though the attackers repeatedly proclaim, loudly and proudly, that it’s all about religion?

“Islam is a peaceful and beautiful religion (I am a Christian) and Muslims who are truly practicing their religion are not preaching killing or death to non-Muslims.”

But religion is faith-based by definition. Nobody belonging to any faith denies this fact. According to the faith of her friends, Islam is only about peace. (Again, where are the movements from peaceful Muslims decrying the violence initiated throughout the world in the name of their peaceful religion?)

However, according to the Muslims who operate, support or condone terrorism, Islam is about vanquishing infidels. Vanquishing infidels is not done through prayer, meditation or rational persuasion.

The term “Islam,” as a matter of fact, translates from Arabic into the term and concept, “submission.” The actions of the terrorists seem more consistent with the name chosen to embody the entire religion than the actions of this Christian woman’s peace-loving friends. Some will argue whether “submission” refers to submitting to the will of Allah, or using force to require all infidels to submit. Either way, the basis for religious interpretation is always faith.

Once you acquire or endorse faith as a form of knowledge, you weaken or eliminate the case for the absolutism of individual rights, freedom and objective knowledge based only on empirically grounded facts. Man’s rights on earth necessarily pale in comparison to the absolute will, wisdom or goodness of any faith-based supernatural entity.

As this liberal Christian woman would no doubt concede, Christianity has been guilty of advancing the use of force to impose its religion. Like many advocates of Islam today, they probably rationalized the use of force as a “submission to the will of the one true God.” In other words, even if you kill other people, you’re doing so for their own good, because that’s what religion is supposed to provide. All religion is based, in the end, on the superiority of faith over reason. Once you have faith in anything, and once you concede that faith trumps reason (when the two conflict), then the stage is set for all kinds of irrational, violent and unjustifiable behavior.

This is the fact that ultimately makes many social conservatives as well as liberal Christians, like this person, uncomfortable with any honest and candid discussion about Islam. From both points of view, at some point you will have to criticize if not condemn religion itself. Islam is, arguably, the most consistent and uninhibited form of religion in the world today, untamed by reason or moderation of any kind.

“Terrorists kill in the ‘name’ of Islam, but that is not what Islam teaches.”

Tell that to the millions of Muslims worldwide who openly support or at least passively sympathize (through their silence, even in free countries) with the violent form of Islam we hear about every day. If Islam is truly and explicitly about something other than the violence we constantly witness, then there should be a worldwide debate going on among Muslims, particularly in still semi-free nations like the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere.

Instead, these nations increasingly minimize (and even excuse) terrorism as the result of centuries of racism, almost justifying it in some respects. Canada has enacted laws against “Islamophobia,” showing you just how far in the politically correct direction things are going.

If Islam is really about peace, then why aren’t liberals such as this reader decrying the people who have “hijacked” the religion, rather than chilling the free speech of anyone who questions them?

Islam is getting a free pass that this progressive/liberal type of person would never grant other groups or organizations. It’s unclear why. In defending Islam, it’s probably not Islam they’re defending, as much as the idea that the United States is an evil or morally questionable country that has victimized those who practice Islam in other parts of the world. They’re succumbing to the idea spread by the terrorists with their own form of intimidation that they are victims, and that acts of terrorism from 9/11 on down are merely acts of self-defense. Self-defense against what, exactly? Against the idea that people living under secular systems of government (separation of church and state), and in materially prosperous societies (which places like Israel and the United States represent), make them uncomfortable.

In the end, it’s really a lot like socialism or other forms of egalitarianism. Nations like the United States are seen as bad and evil, not because of any specific wrongdoing so much as because they’re bigger and better. Note that even the most fundamentalist of Muslims flock to the United States and Western Europe, places much more prosperous than their church-and-state run homelands.

Yet they despise the systems and nations upon whose livelihood and values they depend. Sound familiar?

It sounds a lot like the mindset of the typical progressive. They hate all things American, with “American” in this context defined as anything tainted by capitalism, individual rights, private property, and the pursuit of self-interest on the premise that one’s life is an end in itself. Progressives dislike this idea, even though they live and practice it in their own country, a country they criticize precisely for operating on these premises. It stands to reason that such people feel internal conflict or (in more extreme cases) even self-loathing.

It’s no wonder they rush to defend ideological or social systems and practices at odds with freedom and reason. If you hate yourself, then the unhealthy and twisted tendency is to embrace your own destroyers.

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