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Islam Is Not the Liberal Cause You’re Looking For

On Sunday, there was a contest held in Garland, TX featuring cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.  It was attacked by a pair of Muslim terrorists who drove there from Arizona.  Unlike previous attacks over harmless cartoons, however, only the terrorists were killed after they shot at the event’s armed guards.  And unlike previous incidents, this time the West did not unite in solidarity with the cartoonists, like the Je suis Charlie slogan.  Instead, the conversation seems to have revolved more around criticism of the event’s organizer, incendiary blogger and professional protester Pamela Geller.  Perhaps this was partly because the conservative Geller is known for being offensive and provocative, and partly because, thankfully, there were no innocent victims to mourn this time.  But another factor seems to be an inexplicable rush to defend the Muslim faith when Muslims have threatened innocent people.

Conservatives and liberals usually take divergent, knee-jerk positions in the wake of Muslim terrorism, positions which often seem more concerned with contradistinction to their political opponents than with an honest discussion about modern Islam.  Conservatives will tally another notch as proof that Islam is a violent and dangerous religion; they may genuinely believe this, but it may also be motivated by tribal one-upmanship to make their own religion or ideology appear better.  Liberals will often argue that this it is not all Muslims committing terrorism, that either all religions or all religious extremists are equally bad, or that Islam is a peaceful religion.  Unfortunately, these defenses do more to derail the discussion than resolve it.  True, the nearest terrorists had to drive across two states to reach their target, but that kind of determination renders their small numbers almost insignificant; just one terrorist willing to go through such great lengths is more dangerous than all the other religious extremists in the country.  The leftwing condemnation of all religion may equally just be one-upmanship by the nonreligious.  And the question of whether Islam is a religion of peace or not is debatable.  Like every religion, it’s really only as good as the individuals who practice it, so asserting this statement as the starting point of the conversation rather than the conclusion is being simplistically doctrinaire. 

Arguing that Islam is supposed to be peaceful is a pointless distraction to very real violence committed by devout Muslims in the name of Islam.  LIke it or not, Pamela Geller’s point has been proven true: if you mock or criticize Islam, Muslims may try to kill you.  She may be an agitator, but she is not the instigator.  This conflict started years before when some Muslims killed innocent people over cartoons that were not even intended to provoke a violent reaction.  When Muslims behave like other religions and no longer try to silence criticism and mockery, there will be less to ridicule and criticize.  Or at least it will be less appealing to provocateurs.  Until then, both sides are in a perpetual cycle of antagonism, but we should not be misled by fashionable pundits who argue both sides are equally to blame.  They are not.  One side has drawn offensive but harmless pictures, the other side has killed innocent people.  There is no moral equivalency between the two, as the point was made on the Daily Show: “It is not okay to shoot other people because you’re offended by what they draw, even if they drew it to offend you.”

I completely understand the disgust with Geller and her inflammatory methods, I am not going to argue that anybody has to like her.  But I support free speech even when I don’t like the person or the message, because that’s really the only time it matters.  What bothers me, though, is the eagerness with which some liberals are willing to abandon the principles of free expression under the guise of politeness.  You may have heard, “I support free speech, but…” then blaming the organizers for being hateful, offensive, or in some way causing the violence.  After Sunday’s attack, Salon argued that “free speech is not a license to be stupid.”  This couldn’t be more wrong or more illiberal: nobody’s right to speak is subject to anyone else’s evaluation of their intelligence.  The mere insinuation that free speech is licensed in any way is a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept.  “Hate speech” is not a crime in the United States, if it were anybody could restrict any criticism they dislike with the mere accusation that they found it hateful.  Direct incitement to violence or lawless action has been established as the only speech punishable under U.S. law, and even then it must meet rigorous criteria.  Comparisons of Geller’s provocative views to Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “falsely shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” are refuted because the attack demonstrated her warning was not false.

Criticism misdirected at the target rather than the attacker is a disconcerting trend.  A few days after the Texas incident, Salon published an op-ed by Rula Jebreal calling ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali “dangerous.”  Now the article doesn’t mention that the apostate Hirsi Ali has to travel with bodyguards because of her criticism of Islam, including a film she made with Theo van Gogh which resulted in the filmmaker’s death at the hands of an angry Muslim.  To call a peaceful author, activist, and victim of Muslim extremism “dangerous” is not only unreasonable but inexcusable.  Instead of devoting so much attention to attacking harmless critics of their religion, moderate Muslims would do far better outreach if they attacked the extremists who would try to murder them.  If you only attack the critics of your religion while ignoring the extremists of your religion, then you’re not really a moderate, you’re an enabler.  Jebreal’s irresponsible hyperbole is far more dangerous because it has more potential likelihood to incite real violence against Hirsi Ali and her loved ones than Hirsi Ali’s words do to actually harm any Muslims. 

The Left’s overreaction to defend Islam from Rightwing criticism may actually be making liberals less liberal.  There are obvious double standards when liberals freely bash other religions while withholding criticism of Islam for the same or even worse offenses.  Some liberals have retaliated for the offensive Muhammad cartoons by encouraging offensive cartoons of other religious figures.  This should not be confused as a brave stand for free speech, because it’s only attacking religions that they already know will not respond violently.  Pamela Geller may be passive aggressive, but this is just cowardly.  Similar observations on the liberal hypocrisy when it comes to Islam were summarized by Allen Clifton last year:

“It’s a point Bill Maher actually made a few weeks ago.  He said when it comes to religion, liberals often have no problems bashing Christianity.  Yet he often finds many of these same liberals defending Islam and outraged if someone might dare call out radicalism within the Muslim community.”

It’s admirable to stand up for the rights of Muslims to live and practice their faith without discrimination or oppression, as we should for people of any or no religion.  But many liberals seem to have mistaken Islam for a progressive cause, which it is not.  The main battles which have characterized liberalism for the last century–women’s rights, gay rights, and individuality–are all at odds with Islam.  It is not intolerant to acknowledge this fact.

I would be a hypocrite for writing an article critical of the Christian Right’s opposition to same-sex marriage while giving Islam a pass on gay rights.  It would actually be progressive if Muslim countries were merely resisting the right for gays to legally marry, but sadly the majority of Muslim countries still criminalize homosexuality, and in at least 10 countries it is punishable by death.  In any city in the U.S. you can find a gay-affirming mainline church, but finding a gay-affirming mosque anywhere in the world is a challenge, and virtually impossible in the Muslim world.  The gay community justifiably has a lot to criticize Islam for, and these deplorable human rights violations should not be swept away by the honor brigade.

Like anybody, Muslims individually may be more progressive than their professed creed.  Congressman Keith Ellison’s support of gay rights is acknowledged and appreciated, in the same way as the support of Republicans even though their Party’s platform still opposes same-sex marriage.  There certainly are progressive Muslim voices like Irshad Manji, but unfortunately her books are banned even in supposedly moderate Muslim countries like Malaysia.  Liberals should not lose focus in the gap between how we think the world ought to be and how it actually is; the sobering reality is that Islam is presently  far behind liberal ideals.  So much so that it is also behind modern conservatism in its progress.  It doesn’t always have to be this way, other religions have undergone dramatic reforms in their doctrines on slavery, caste, women, and sexuality.  But as outsiders (aka infidels) we don’t get to tell Muslims what their religion is supposed to be, that’s something they have to decide for themselves.  In the meantime, let’s stop pretending it is something that it isn’t.  And let’s rightly condemn violent attackers and not their intended victims.  

Bosch Fawstin's award winning cartoon

Bosch Fawstin’s award winning cartoon

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The Price of Progress

Charlie Chaplin’s last silent film, Modern Times (1936), included a scene that would be unintentionally prophetic. A red safety flag falls off of a passing truck and Charlie picks it up. Trying to get their attention, he follows after them waving the flag, not realizing that a labor protest has formed in the street behind him. The police attack the crowd and Charlie is arrested as a communist agitator. After he gets out of jail, he tries to get work again in several occupations, but at the end of the movie he still remains a poor tramp.

Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator (1940)

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator

Several years later, he made his first sound film, The Great Dictator (1940).  Chaplin plays a Jewish barber who is mistaken for an anti-Jewish dictator who looks and sounds a lot like Adolph Hitler.   A decade later, however, he would find himself caught in the House Un-American Activities witchhunt.  Chaplin was, despite never having been associated with the party, suspected of being a communist for having endorsed progressive candidates, refusing to cross picket lines during a strike, and publicly praising then-ally the Soviet Union during World War II (as the government had encouraged producers and studio executives to do).  However, Chaplin had also publicly criticized Hitler before the United States was involved in the war, and in the twisted minds of the McCarthy overlords one would have only done that if they were a pro-Communist sympathizer.  Chaplin defied the HUAC by refusing to name names and he suggested he was being bullied because they also erroneously thought that he was Jewish.  As payback, the little Tramp was banished to England and could not return again until the 1970’s to receive an honorary Academy Award.

In the 1930’s, it was estimated there were over 800 fascist organizations operating in the United States.  While the movements and activities of the official Nazi party were monitored and restricted during the war, others like the Ku Klux Klan were never investigated by the HUAC because they believed the Klan’s activities were part of American heritage.  There was never a similar witchhunt of Klan members, even when the group’s terrorist activities were undeniable.  After the national KKK dissolved, its former members carried on with their jobs and their lives with impunity; the culprits behind the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing weren’t brought to justice until almost 40 years later.  Pro-segregation politicians like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace still won elections after desegregation.  A new American Nazi party formed in 1960 and its members could still be acquitted by all-white juries as late as the Greensboro Massacre in 1979.

In the same period, civil rights leaders faced very real lynchings and assassinations, while being slandered by their opponents as “socialists.”  Rightwing propaganda to this day still refers to the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a communist front.”  Conservative supporters of apartheid in South Africa, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, justified this brutal white supremacy as a lesser evil to an imagined communist threat.  This has been a successful strategy, a false accusation of being a communist can potentially ruin somebody’s life, whereas members of actual un-American groups on the right are seldom held accountable.  Going back to the Civil War, the insurrectionists of the Confederacy were pardoned during Reconstruction.  Former slaveowners were not punished for their numerous crimes against humanity, but instead were permitted to continue abusing their former slaves and their descendants for generations as second-class citizens in the Jim Crow South.  Whereas the freedmen received no restitution for their lost wages, they were expected to move on as if the labor camps, the beatings and the rapes had never happened.  With the lone exception of South Carolina, Southern blacks never came close to electing a majority of black representatives in their state legislatures like D. W. Griffith’s 1915 racist epic The Birth of a Nation depicted, but that gave a paranoid white South an imaginary justification to restrict black voting rights.  Even when black communities overcame the odds and achieved respectable success, they were viciously burned down like the 1921 Tulsa race riot; true to form, Oklahoma acquitted the guilty parties and denied the victims any compensation for their miscarriage of justice.

The toll of being a progressive has always been a high cost, some escaped with only the loss of their careers, others lost everything including their lives.  It has always been comparatively safer and easier to be a conservative, yet ironically it is conservatives who more frequently exhibit a persecution complex.  They still toss around baseless accusations of communism to try to preemptively shut down any discussion of reform, and if they don’t get their way they manufacture cases of hardship and oppression.  The Confederate-invented narrative of the Civil War focuses solely on the so-called “tyranny” of the federal government and the loss of so-called “states’ rights”, while ignoring or mitigating the extent and brutality of slavery.  Their distress at the loss of privilege outweighs an opponents’ actual loss of individual rights.  For instance, they irrationally act as if monogamous gays getting legally married is somehow an inexplicable threat to their freedom, while ignoring the very real harm caused to gay families by being denied recognition before the law.  Suddenly, baking a cake or arranging flowers for a gay couple has become a violation of conservatives’ “religious freedom.”  Of course, these same bakers and florists never made an issue of gay anniversaries, gay birthdays, gay Valentine’s Day, gay Easter, gay Christmas, or gay Hanukkah, etc.; gay couples had been having commitment ceremonies for decades, but that never became an issue either, not until after conservatives lost their marriage battle.  This is obviously nothing but the same political payback and hissy fitting that followed after the Civil War, and they should have already learned from losing the Civil Rights war that a business owner doesn’t get to decide who can buy a product or what they can use it for.  If they can’t understand this, then they shouldn’t be in business.  It’s time for conservatives to give up their delusions of being persecuted, they have been the oppressors far more often than they have been the oppressed, if ever.

Disgracefully, conservative bigotry persists because every generation weighs themselves against their forebears and seems relatively better by comparison: the segregationists were not as bad as the klansmen, and the klansmen were not as bad as the slaveowners.  Like liquid following the path of least resistance, bigotry lazily finds refuge wherever it can still be seen as acceptable.  On the positive side, however, today’s liberals become tomorrow’s conservatives.  They never had to fight for progress themselves, but they can comfortably adopt positions that the previous generation would have condemned as too liberal.  Because of that, most people are not truly liberal simply because they were born into a world where slavery and segregation were illegal.  To truly consider ourselves liberal, we have to identify the safe zones where bigotry has presently slithered and stamp it out into a new corner.

This appears to be on the verge of happening in the latest gay rights battle.  A decade ago, a Christian could come into serious conflict with many churches just for saying that the government had no authority to ban gays from marriage, even if they didn’t personally approve of same-sex marriage themselves.  If the Supreme Court rules against the bans this summer, as they have indicated they will, that same position will then naturally become the prevalent view among anti-gay churches.  Liberals will welcome this forward progress even though those conservatives may have literally demonized them like the segregations formerly did to their liberal opponents.  To the conservatives who continue to resist and resent any comparison between the civil rights movement and gay rights, I beg you: now that Alabama justice Roy Moore has invited the comparisons to George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, please do not consummate the likeness to those racists by resorting to violence.   You can either actively support progress, or passively become tomorrow’s conservative, but if you try to remain a conservative of the moment, then you will inevitably be compared to the ones before you.  And really, you have nothing to lose, the progressives have already paid the price for progress.

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The Politics of Punishment

This holiday season, I watched an unusual Christmas movie called Blossoms in the Dust (1941).  While considered a holiday movie (at least according to the Warner Brothers Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2) because it spans several Christmases and has carols in its soundtrack, I say it’s unusual because it’s actually the true story of adoption advocate Edna Gladney’s crusade to have the word “illegitimate” stricken from Texas birth certificates.  People today will probably wonder why such a seemingly simple thing could provide compelling material for a feature-length movie and earn its star Green Garson an Academy Award nomination, but in 1936 it was a monumental undertaking.

blossomsinthedust

At the time, illegitimate children were frequently abandoned, but even if they could be adopted by an upstanding, morally upright family they could still never escape the circumstances of their birth.  It made no difference if they never knew their biological mother or even knew that they were adopted; if a legitimate foundling’s parentage could not be determined the state would err on the assumption of illegitimacy, and the public record would become known as adults when they tried to marry or register for selective service.  Society was clearly divided into two separate classes, punishing the children for the sins of their parents.  Edna’s conservative critics accused her of trying to destroy the family and encourage promiscuity.  To them, it was more important to inflict a lifelong stigma on innocent children (who had no choice in their birth) as a deterrent to keep the rest of society in line.

Edna Gladney’s battle was as controversial as any of the social issues being fought today, but while conservatives have thankfully abandoned the fight over illegitimacy, the conservative politics of punishment have changed little.  Whether the issue is welfare, healthcare, gays, crime, poverty, drugs, wages, immigration, etc. the Republican position always seems to be a pathological obsession with trying to unnecessarily punish people, even if just for circumstances beyond their control.  Shifting focus from the illegitimate child, most of the conservative assault against welfare has been an attack on an imagined, stereotypical single mother, Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen.”  Psychologist Jonathan Haidt compares this conservative morality to karma, “where basically, you’re supposed to get what you deserve. And what really bothers them is somebody not getting what they deserve. So the government getting involved and interfering with people getting what they deserve is really bad.”  Even though the majority of America’s poor are under the age of 12, who can’t get jobs or move to a better neighborhood, the Republican party has demonstrated through repeated cuts that they’re willing to punish the children for the perceived sins of the mother (Clinton’s “deadbeat dad” seems to have dropped out of the equation completely).

I’ve previously made the case that conservative bans on same-sex marriage are little more than an attempt to use legislation punitively against behavior that’s not actually illegal.  Justice Elena Kagan  pointed out as much at the Supreme Court hearings when reading the 1996 House Report that unashamedly exposed the animus behind DOMA.  But even when these bans are struck down, read the comments on any news article and you’ll find conservatives joyfully consoling themselves (while giving a Christian “fu@k you” to anyone who supports marriage equality) with the reassurance that their political enemies will burn in hell forever.  These conservatives give the impression that they believe in hell simply for personal revenge, not out of any sense of divine justice.   It doesn’t come across like they want gays to go to hell because they think gay sex is wrong or icky, but rather for the most petty of reasons: because they couldn’t punish the gays themselves.

A current hot topic disputed by conservatives is raising the minimum wage.  While conservativism in general is notorious for its hostility to the poor, some of the conservative objections to this especially reveal a desire to punish the poor for their poverty.  Exceeding beyond the myth that increasing wages would kill jobs, conservatives were gleefully hoping that low-wage workers would lose their jobs.  Growing up, I can remember Ann Landers telling me flipping burgers wasn’t beneath my dignity.  Yet today’s conservatives disparage fast food workers for not having accomplished more, even in a depressed economy in which wages haven’t kept up with inflation, all the high-paying unskilled jobs went overseas, and upward mobility disappeared as unemployed white collar workers compete for the management positions.  While fast food jobs may have traditionally been intended for teenagers and students, the majority of them are now taken by adults just trying to survive in today’s economic climate.  As more and more people go to college, there are fewer unskilled laborers today than there were just a few decades ago; even the definition of “unskilled” has changed dramatically, as they now often possess more skills than their predecessors (in fact, many people settling for fast food jobs have degrees), so not everybody’s circumstances can be blamed on poor life choices.  The truth is we used to have an economy in which unskilled laborers could earn a living wage, but we don’t anymore and punishing the poor for the state of the economy isn’t going to fix it.  If conservatives don’t believe that increasing the minimum wage is the right way to do it, then they need to present an actual solution.

At its worst, this is a just-world fallacy, assuming that the reason people must be poor is their own fault.  Similarly, conservatives mercilessly neglected the uninsurable with pre-existing conditions before healthcare reform, which the GOP still seeks to completely repeal without any consideration.  Republicans seem determined to punish the few who did make poor choices even if it means punishing those who didn’t along with them.

The politics of punishment are seemingly inescapable for conservatives.  They can’t imagine policy any other way, or if they could then those policies would probably no longer be conservative.  In his book The Republican Brain, Chris Mooney shows how “it is much easier to get a liberal to behave like a conservative” (of course, it’s harder to get a conservative to behave like a liberal) simply by distracting or impairing a liberal’s attention.    Conservative positions tend to require little thought, which is why the politics of punishment are so appealing to them.  Mooney’s book shows a study in which participants were questioned about reducing crime, and the focused conservatives and distracted liberals both agreed on harsher sentencing as a solution.  At first glance, harsher punishment does seem like the reasonable deterrent to crime, but a more nuanced (ie: liberal) approach recognizes other factors.  For example, people might instinctively call for the death penalty for rape, but that does little when already less than 10% of all rapes are ever prosecuted; even worse, the rapist would have nothing to lose by killing their victim.  Clearly changes in culture and education are overdue when schoolboys genuinely are unaware that taking sexual advantage of a passed out drunk girl is in fact rape (of course, according to the politics of punishment that’s her fault).  Ruthlessly harsh minimum sentences for drug possession haven’t ended the war on drugs.  The US has the world’s highest incarceration rate, yet our endless quest to punish hasn’t reaped the desired results.

I can imagine some conservatives are objecting to this as they read it.  Conservative and liberal minds are made up on most issues, so even if I can’t persuade them to change their stance on the issues themselves, I would at least encourage them to stop and consider the way they respond to these issues and why.  Ask yourself whether your first reaction to a problem is to try to punish somebody for it.  If so, is that even practical or effective?  Is there another way it could be solved more effectively?  When pharisees present you with an adulteress and hand you rocks, perhaps you should pause for a moment to write in the sand.  This doesn’t mean that there’s no time and place for punishment, but if somebody’s behavior is not harmful or illegal then is it worth harming other innocent people in the process of punishing them?  Christians in particular should strive to err on the side of grace and mercy rather than on the revenge politics that have characterized the GOP for so long.

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Evolve

Last year’s Family Guy episode titled “Big Bang Theory” (no relation to the show of the same name) left me scratching my head.  In the story, Brian and Stewie end up outside the space-time continuum after some mishaps with Stewie’s time machine.  After successfully getting back to reality, Stewie determines that the energy he created to free them must have been the cause of the Big Bang, concluding that he must have been put there by the universe to create it.  While this plot could just be attributed to a difference in writers, it still seems unusual coming from series creator and outspoken atheist Seth McFarlane’s creations.  Assuming an intelligence creating the universe is closely theistic, and since no sympathetic depiction of theism ever slips through on Family Guy, this leads me to believe it’s merely the result of a recent trend in atheism.

Stewie and Brian outside the time-space continuum

Stewie and Brian outside the time-space continuum

As much as the New Atheists are opposed to creationism or intelligent design, it’s fascinating how much they seem to believe in an intelligence behind the universe while rejecting an intelligent designer.  Atheist leaders like Sam Harris argue that religion is a vestigial product of evolution that is no longer beneficial to society, which is a value-judgment ironically counter to evolutionary theory.  His followers persistently tell theists to “evolve”, and their definition of evolution is a one-track ascent of man which conveniently leads to their ideology as the ultimate end.  For starters, the entire concept of telling someone to “evolve” out of their own volition is completely unscientific, the equivalent of telling a leopard to change its spots.  Every individual organism would already be at the height of its evolution, after all, and nothing it does can change that.  Next, evolutionarily speaking, one organism is not “more” or “less” evolved than another; concepts of regression or progression are value judgments that only have meaning to man.  The term “de-evolution” is a misnomer, nature is indifferent to which organisms or ideologies ought to reproduce, survival of the fittest is merely the result of the thinning of the herd.

While completely in line with evolutionary theory, these facts are difficult for the New Atheist to swallow.  Just as Sam Harris is seemingly incapable of understanding that science can only tell us how the world is, not how it ought to be, so his followers generally perceive expressing these facts as moralizing.  For instance, atheists generally respond by being insulted when I factually explain to them that the birth-rate of liberals is insufficient to replace the current generation, and that conservatives will marginalize them by virtue of reproducing more frequently.  Mathematically, the side that discourages abortion and promotes heterosexual marriage for procreation has a natural advantage over the side that has non-procreative sex and abortions; this is indisputable scientific fact.  Ironically, the ones destined to prevail generally don’t even believe in evolution, whereas the ideology that does will find themselves the lesser suited for survival.  The scientific solution is for liberals to simply start having more children, yet almost reluctantly they always seem to argue that the conservatives ought to change their beliefs or have fewer offspring.  In other words, they respond to morally neutral facts with moral judgments.  However, they don’t see their recommendations for what they really are–social engineering or selective breeding–they see their ideology as the destined course of human development, presupposing intelligence behind evolution, as if godless nature favors the atheist.  It is an audacious value judgment to assume one’s own ideology is more “evolved” than another, especially when it really has no evolutionary adantages over competing ideas.

Evolutionarily, Islam is the memeplex most suited to dominate the world.  Allowing up to four sexually submissive wives per husband with no legal abortions and starting to conceive very early in life, its birth rate is automatically enabled to be quadruple that of the most sexually active fertile couple.  Its hostile suppression of homosexuality ensures no attrition lost to same-sex intercourse, and the few gays executed under sharia law are more than offset by the millions pressured to marry and produce more anti-gay progeny for fear of their life.  Furthermore, Islam punishes dissenters and apostates with the death penalty and forbids other religions from proselytizing, ultimately ensuring 100% homogenization.  This is just statistical and scientific fact, I am not celebrating the memetic superiority of Islam.  The New Atheists, however, usually cannot understand my describing how the world is in comparison to how it ought to be.  Stating such facts is not bragging about Islam, nor is it suggesting that one should convert to the religion best positioned for world domination.

As a Christian, I can acknowledge the Islamic practices that give that religion an unfair advantage and also denounce them.  The scientific solution, after all, would be for non-Muslims to start taking more than four wives and likewise punishing gays and dissenters severely, but that would not be the moral solution.  Christianity may not be at a reproductive advantage over Islam, but I can still believe it is a morally superior ideology that should not be compromised, and must nonetheless succeed against overwhelming odds.  It is not how the world is by nature, but it is, in my belief, how the world ought to be, and that gives me the moral ground to spread and promote faith in Christ.  The atheists usually agree with me that Islam taking over the world would be a bad thing, although they’re at a loss to explain why.  The New Atheist, after all, has no authority, moral or otherwise, to defend why their reproductively inferior ideology should persevere over Islam or Christianity.  They may think of themselves as more intellectual, ethical, social, etc. than theists, but no law says nature must favor these qualities.  Sometimes stronger organisms survive over smarter ones, but if whatever survives is the product of evolution then who are we to say that gorillas ought to triumph over leopards?  Why should nature favor atheists?  Or why should humans survive, for that matter?  The very people who believe in evolution could, ironically, die out completely and whoever remained would still be the product of evolution.  The atheists who presumptuously think of themselves as the peak of evolutionary development cannot justify their own survival unless they assume some underlying intelligence behind evolution.

The simple value judgments that atheists make about the world, themselves, and others indicates that they don’t genuinely subscribe to their soulless ideology as strictly as they might claim.  Their belief that the world ought to be improving as a natural process is an assumption of intelligent design.  If atheists were to truly divorce their enlightenment fundamentalism from its theistic roots, their idea of how the world ought to be would be drastically different, but it would not be a tenable worldview.  Any worldview must rely on value judgments, after all, which are entirely outside of the domain of science.  Atheistic materialism is a failed philosophy, because philosophy is immaterial.  As much as they may want to keep Intelligent Design out of science classes, the atheist would be unable to relate to the world without an assumed intelligent order behind it all, whether they acknowledge that as God or not.

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Obama Is Not a Muslim (but I’m not sure why he isn’t)

Taking a departure from the usual topic, I thought I’d cover some textual analysis pertaining to Islam, and its leftist apologists.  Despite Islam violating all principles that one would think the Left would hold as uncompromising–separation of church and state, women’s rights (including abortion), minority rights, gay rights, free thought, and basic human rights–the liberal far Left has adopted Muslims as their latest pet group in need of their protection.  Liberals are quick to denounce any criticism of Islam as so-called “Islamophobia”, and will voluntarily parrot Islamic apologetics on their behalf.

Even theological debates or textual criticism of the Qur’an is considered offensive to these secular apologists, though they defiantly exercise their right to be able to criticize Christian theology or scripture.  It almost seems as if, subconsciously or secretly, they really do believe or subscribe to Islam, and in a way, I would argue they do.  For instance, take a common textual criticism of the Qur’an: Muhammad thought that Jesus was the son of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron.  You see, Muhammad didn’t have a linear view of history, and he thought that all the Bible stories he had heard from passersby on the trade routes all occurred simultaneously in some mythic past.  The name for Mary and Miriam are both Maryam in the Arabic Qur’an, so one can easily see how he confused the two.

In the eponymous Surah for Mary the mother of Jesus, he refers to Mary as “sister of Aaron”:

Qur’an 19:27-28–“At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: ‘O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”

Elsewhere, Muhammad refers to Mary’s mother as “the wife of Imran”:

Qur’an 3:31–“How the wife of ʿImrān said, O my Lord, I have vowed to thee what is in my womb. Now accept [this vow] from me, thou art the hearing, the knowing. And when she had given birth to the child, she said, O my lord, I have given birth to a female child… and I have called her Mary.”

Qur’an 66:12–“And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.”

This Imran corresponds to Amram in the Hebrew Bible, the father of Moses, Aaron, and of course, Miriam (Ex. 6:20).  Oops!

Now I’ve received death threats from Muslims just for making this argument, but I was more surprised that hardcore atheists and agnostics would take the time to research Islamic apologetics and copy+paste them into the discussion.  I already knew Muslims have argued since the time of Muhammad that “sister of Aaron” is supposedly either a general term for descendants of Levi or a different Aaron.  But I was more amused what these non-Muslim apologists of Islam repeated about the Amram problem.  Muslims argue that both Miriam and Mary had a father named Amram.  Seems like a simple enough solution at first glance, but this actually creates a bigger problem for people who don’t even believe Islam.  You see, there’s no natural way Muhammad could have known Mary’s father’s name even if the Biblical genealogies are wrong (which one must reject anyway if one is going to defend the Islamic position), since there was no record in history of his name being Amram.  The only possible options are that Muhammad made a very obvious mistake, or was given this name through divine revelation, an unprecedented feat in the Abrahamic tradition yet Muslims are suspiciously silent about this “miracle” in the Qur’an.

The agnostic cannot sit on the fence here, either the Qur’an is wrong or it is divinely inspired.  Unlike the Bible, which can be evaluated as truthful or historical even if not accepted as inspired, you must believe the Qur’an is the Word of God if you support it’s unfounded historical re-writes.  Yet surprisingly, liberals who don’t even believe in God will provide a defense which requires belief in the Qur’an.  Instead of acknowledging facts and allowing that to shape their worldview, they have pre-determined their worldview around a political agenda, defending Islam from any criticism, no matter how legitimate.  This movement permeates the spectrum from atheists to liberal Christians, even the most visible Islamic apologist in the West, President Barack Obama.  While there’s a far-Right conspiracy that’s convinced Obama is a closet Muslim, his support of Islam is really no different from his Leftist peers.  Obama is on a political mission, his worldview is agenda-driven, and as a result he overlooks facts that are in conflict with this goal.  In his desire to be liked by Muslims, he recites their own indoctrination and apologetics, claiming Islamic peace and unity while betraying his own values to Islamic subordination.  Obama is not actually a Muslim, but considering everything he says and claims to believe about Islam, my only question to him is:  Why aren’t you a Muslim?

Kneel before Saud

Kneel before Saud!

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