Someone commenting on my post about the Jews said:
“But maybe we don’t have enough personal contact with any Muslims”
Clearly, I did not make myself clear in that post, so let me continue:
No, I never had a close Muslim friend and never had a Muslim woman in my life, but I know maybe two dozen. I worked with many and I still do. One of my colleagues, a most respectable, decent man is a devout Muslim. He takes his religion very seriously. As an Egyptian, he is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. I know Muslims who are more fanatic than him, I know some who are less and I know some secular Muslims too. The kind that will happily drink wine with their pork chops. I am not close enough to any of them to have an honest conversation about their faith.
I definitely do not hate any of them. I knew a few that made me feel a little uneasy, some I would not trust, but in the end they are just people. People with lives, feelings, desires ……… and some strange ideas. What I think of them is only partly influenced by what I think of those ideas and even when it comes to that, my predominant feeling is puzzlement. How can rational beings have such screwed up ideas?
In the end, none of this should matter. What we think of people, their ideas and their actions can be independent of each other. It is possible to like the Muslims you know and hate Islam and what it stands for. It is possible to hate Islam with passion and feel sorry for its most unfortunate victims – the Muslims themselves.
(It must complement my homophobia very nicely.)
The magic word was thrown at me in some Facebook comments. The one that is designed to end conversations. “So Anti-Semitism bad, islamophobia, good.”
I never suggested such thing; that was the reasoned conclusion of my interlocutor. My post was taking side in a conflict. It had a judgment, but no fear.
A phobia is a mental condition. A sort of anxiety disorder, ”a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.”
In common parlance, islamophobia means expressing any degree of critical opinion about Muslims or any of their believes and causes. In that sense, I am guilty. I am critical not only of Islam, but just about anything.
Daniel Pearl, James Foley, Steven Sotloff did not have the phobia. They did nothing to avoid the Muslims, but let’s suppose that they could have developed that abnormal mental condition somewhere in the process.
At what point could we have considered their fear or hatred justified? When they were captured, when they were told they will die or only when the knife started to cut into their jugulars?
Are the rest of us allowed to feel any degree of resentment watching these disturbing videos? Who can we resent? Where can our resentment start and end? Can we detest the person doing the beheading?
Seeing the barbarity of their action, can we call it barbaric? Will that make us islamophobes? Once seeing it, isn’t it reasonable to fear it and trying to avoid it?
In course of 16 years, 1,400 children were raped in Rotherham, England, by Muslim men. Muslim rape gangs are an epidemic in Western Europe. At what point does the fear of such thing and the desire to avoid it become rational? If you are a woman who was raped by a Muslim rape gang, is it OK to dislike Muslims? Is it ok to dislike the ideology that tells them that it is OK to rape non-Muslims?
Wherever Islam goes problems seem to follow. At what point would it be reasonable to advocate that we should save the Muslims from Islam by – for example – requiring them to renounce their fate before they immigrate into a secular society or just asking them to renounce the violent passages in their holy book? We are already controlling heavily what the fascists can say or do. What makes preaching the intolerant ideas of Islam more acceptable than that of fascism?
But you don’t have to hate the Muslims.
You should not hate anybody. The Christians say “Don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin”.
The problems stem from the easy conflagration of ideologies and the people representing them. Do I hate the communists? Should I? Should we hate Stalin? How about Hitler? Should we try to see the ‘humanity’ of Osama Bin Laden? He was a soft spoken, pious man. Well versed in his faith and culture.
What makes a Jew? A Muslim? A communist? A Buddhist?
Can you picture people developing a Jainophobia or a Buddhistophobia? An irrational fear of Jains and Buddhists? Do I need to explain why not?
I was born in a communist country. Did that automatically make me a communist? If I was drafted to the army would that have made me into a communist soldier?
At what point does the Hitler jugend or the soviet pioneer become the fascist or the communist?
At what point does the adherence to the prevailing social norms around you become part of your identity? What makes someone to be what he is perceived to be? What he wants to be seen as?
What makes someone British? The butcher killing James Foley has been identified as a British subject. When you hear the word British, could that be the image that jumps to your mind? How do you think he identifies himself? British?
Am I a Hungarian or a Canadian? I was socialized to be a Hungarian, I chose to be Canadian. What am I? What you perceive me to be or what I consider myself to be?
When someone identifies himself as a Muslim, communist, Buddhist or a libertarian, doesn’t that mean identification with the ideology? That he stands for whatever that ideology stands for? Buddhism for peace, Islam for submission, conquest, subjugation and world domination?
In the trichotomy of the man, his ideology and him acting on it where should we direct our emotions? Our likes and dislikes, our approval or moral condemnation? What is the proximate and what is the ultimate cause of Muslim violence? What should be therefore the ultimate target of our opposition: the ideology or the men acting on it? At what point does the man become the manifestation of his ideology? What has to be the degree of adherence to an ideology before we can identify someone with it? Does it make any sense fighting a war against the Muslims while constantly emphasizing our respect for the ideology that drives them?
Ideas have consequences.
Ideologies matter as they drive people to act on them.
The Buddhists believe that the source of all of our sufferings is desire so they try to eliminate desires from their lives.
The Jews believe that they are the chosen people of God and they are driven to excel, to live up to the implied expectations.
The communists believe that to create a perfect world you need perfect plans that should be created and controlled by the vanguard elite (the party). That is why they create centrally planned micromanaged economies as I described in “A pinch of communism”
Muslims believe that they, and their ideology, should rule the world and they pursue that aim with the primitive, barbaric ferocity precisely the way it is prescribed to them in the Quran.
Ideas become harmful when they are acted upon. Communism could have been a quaint little utopian dream if it wasn’t for the millions that it killed and the many more millions of lives it destroyed. Islam could be a picturesque episode of the dark ages if it was not for the fact that it is trying to bring all of us back to the dark ages.
I do not hate people, but I can get very angry about the harmful, stupid or evil acts of some of them. I don’t hate the sinner, I hate the sin. I knew many very decent people who identified themselves as communist. Does that make the ideology less harmful? The same could be said about Islam. Does the fact that most Muslims are not bloody murderers make the threat of the ideology less compelling? Less serious? Less alarming? Less of something that we should rationally fear and try to keep away from?
After asking so many questions, let me offer some answers:
You don’t have to like the Jews and you don’t have to hate the Muslims. They are people. People are what they are. Knowing their background may help you understand them but should not be the basis of your judgment and opinion of them.
You MUST, on the other hand, resolutely oppose Islam and the horrible things it advocates and stands for.
Intolerance, misogyny, hatred, bigotry, violence and even stupidity should be exposed and opposed.
If for no other reason, then to save and emancipate the Muslims from it.
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