11 September 2010

The ninth anniversary: despair and hope

Over the last couple of weeks, the controversies over the Ground Zero mosque and Pastor Terry Jones's plan to burn the Koran have loomed large in the blogosphere. To me, it's been a sobering and frankly depressing reminder of the tremendous ignorance about Islam which is still so widespread here in the United States, especially -- yes, I'm going to say it, because it's a fact -- on the left.

The Bushian meme that Islam is a peaceful religion, and that people like the Taliban and al-Qâ'idah are not truly representative of it, still seems to have a firm grip on the thinking of far too many people. In almost Orwellian fashion, clichés and propaganda talking points are passed off as fact, while manifestations of actual knowledge of the subject are derided as bigotry -- as if a religio-ideology which is the planet's foremost engine of homophobia, misogyny, anti-intellectualism, and violent totalitarian attacks on free expression, were somehow comparable to the racial, ethnic, or sexual minorities which liberals normally and rightly defend against discrimination. It seems that, to some people, anything which comes under attack from the right wing must reflexively be defended, and any facts or arguments which complicate the simple picture must be ignored or denounced.

So why the word "hope" in the post title? Because I know that such delusions are not as pervasive on the left as they appear to be. I know from people I'm in touch with, and even from some blogs, that there are plenty of liberals out there who know the truth about Islam at least in broad strokes -- even if many of them are understandably reluctant to speak up in public. And the atheist community is far more up to speed on Islam than the broader liberal one. Many atheist bloggers know the score and speak out bluntly, to say nothing of heavyweights like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Condell.....

More importantly, the problem is to some extent a self-correcting one. The best antidote to misinformation is real information, and there is plenty of it out there -- more and more all the time. Recall how, after the September 11 attack, books on Islam were swept from the bookstores and libraries by hordes of baffled Americans suddenly determined to find out more about a subject to which most of them had never previously given any thought. Some may still have learned little, but many learned much. Since then there has been a steady background drip of news stories about terrorist attacks, honor killings, stonings, riots in Europe, etc. -- and though apologetics and excuse-making are a constant accompaniment, they wear thin after a while. The truth will out. And every time the country is swept by a media feeding frenzy like the Ground Zero mosque or even the idiotic Pastor Jones, more people are inspired to educate themselves about Islam, and if they delve deep enough, they will eventually leave the clichés and propaganda behind.

You, too, can educate yourself. Reading blog posts alone won't do it (even mine!). Get hold of some real books by people who know (like this one and this one), put aside your preconceptions, and read them with an open mind. Dawkins's The God Delusion has some good material on Islam in the broader context of religion in general, and of course, there's the most important and damning book of all.

There are moderate Muslims. There can be no moderate Islam.


Blogger Ranch Chimp said...


You know I'll never forgive ... I'm not christian or muslim!

12 September, 2010 08:05  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks! I know you've always gotten it.

Be sure to check out the AC's September 11 posting too.

12 September, 2010 08:42  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the AC link ... that is the kind of thing that most folk's actually know nothing about ... great posting though!

12 September, 2010 14:11  

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