34 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

      It is funny because it is true!

      Good jokes signal the punch line immediately before it’s delivered, this is too predictable from the very beginning to be funny; it is however true.

      S G

  1. Originally I thought that religions that require more ‘investment’ from their followers (mainly I suppose in terms of time & ritual) seem to have people that are less tolerant of other religions. But then I thought, hey, remember Dave Allen & all those jokes based on his own Catholic religion. And the Jews – bless ‘em – all those jokes involving Rabbis & saving money. Oy yoy yoy. Then I try to think of ‘publicly acceptable’ Muslim jokes & draw a blank. (In general). So I ask: Which mainline religion requires the greatest baseline investment from its followers & are they more protective against/intolerant of other Rs because of this?

  2. A very funny and perceptive punchline, as per usual. I completely agree that it’s absurd to accuse those who criticize Islam or the Koran of “Islamophobia.”

    On the other hand, I think Sam Harris went too far when, in a recent blog post, he said, “There is no such thing as ‘Islamophobia.’” When Americans were polled in 2012, only 58 percent say they would be willing to vote for a Muslim president. (54% would vote for an atheist.) I’m as critical of Islam as any other secular humanist, but this kind of knee-jerk rejection of Muslims (no matter how intelligent, ethical, and progressive) is a problem. Let’s keep the term “Islamophobia” to refer to real bigotry, while dropping the term as a facile way of silencing criticism of Islam.

    • In reply to #3 by Kubrick:
      Let’s keep the term “Islamophobia” to refer to real bigotry, while dropping the term as a facile way of silencing criticism of Islam.

      Exactly parallel to anti-Semitism.

    • In reply to #3 by Kubrick:

      Let’s keep the term “Islamophobia” to refer to real bigotry, while dropping the term as a facile way of silencing criticism of Islam.

      Let’s not, real bigotry stems from religion. Fear and even hatred of a religion is perfectly rational, as long as it isn’t based on other crazy religious ideas.

      In reply to #7 by aldous:

      Exactly parallel to anti-Semitism.

      No it is not. Jews are a race as well as a religion.

      In reply to #8 by prietenul:

      Maybe my brain is deteriorating with old age, but I don’t understand why one can’t refuse to vote for a Muslim.

      Then your brain is still working surprisingly well. I would not vote for any kind of theist either.

      • In reply to #9 by Peter Grant:

        Exactly parallel to anti-Semitism./ No it is not. Jews are a race as well as a religion.

        I had a conversation with an Israeli athiest recently; he said he considered himself a Jew, as if it were a racial description – even though he did not believe in Judaism. I am very confused with this. Are not most Israelis Caucasian in terms of race, being descendants of european jews who settled in Israel after WW2?

          • In reply to #12 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #11 by DadofJack:

            Some Jews are black, genetically it’s all about the maternal line.

            I’m pretty sure that if you go far enough back we’re all from the same maternal line – our oldest common ancestor is female as it’s only the female genes that can be traced back (or something like that – I’m not a genealogist or even a biologist of any sort but I saw some programme on BBC2 a while ago about the spread of humanity).

            But I digress, Peter Grant does raise an interesting question, just because ones mother is Jewish (or perhaps converted to Judaism) how could that possibly affect you racially or genetically?

          • In reply to #13 by Ardiem:

            But I digress, Peter Grant does raise an interesting question, just because ones mother is Jewish (or perhaps converted to Judaism) how could that possibly affect you racially or genetically?

            There are certain genetic disorders which are much more common amongst Jews, for instance. Also, Jews do not proselytise so converts are rarer.

        • In reply to #11 by DadofJack:

          In reply to #9 by Peter Grant:Exactly parallel to anti-Semitism./ No it is not. Jews are a race as well as a religion.I had a conversation with an Israeli athiest recently; he said he considered himself a Jew, as if it were a racial description – even though he did not believe in Judaism. I am very confused with this. Are not most Israelis Caucasian in terms of race, being descendants of european jews who settled in Israel after WW2?

          Actually much of the Isreali population that settled in Isreal after WWII were Jews that emigrated from other countries in the middle east. I heard it described once as almost a population swap. When the non-Jews fled/were expelled from Isreal the same thing essentailly happened to the Jews in the Middle East. Unfortunately the palestinains who were expelled or fled were not welcomed by the surrounding muslim countries as the Jews were by what became Isreal.

      • In reply to #9 by Peter Grant:
        Muslims are usually non-white people, though. So it can be used — and is already used — to serve racism.

        This is not to say that I disapprove of the critique of religions, but it should not be used to discriminate specifically Muslims, which is what the West is definitely doing to support their wars and the so-called war on terrorism. In a lot of cases Islamophobia may be justifiably equated with anti-Semitism.

        In my own country Islamophobics tend to be very fond of their “Judeo-Christian” traditions, which they only care about when they can use it to discriminate against Muslims. They are actively supporting Christianity against the Islam.

        Just my two cents.

      • Exactly parallel to anti-Semitism.

        No it is not. Jews are a race as well as a religion.

        Not sure how the Jews of Israel are the same race as the Jews in Ethiopia. Heck, Israel has admitted that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge. The only common element among Jews is their belief. It’s just that some Jews are more chosen than other Jews. Yiddish Farm.

        • In reply to #16 by aquilacane:

          Not sure how the Jews of Israel are the same race as the Jews in Ethiopia.

          The point is that both Jews in Ethiopia and Jews in Europe differ genetically from the rest of the population in those areas.

          Hitler was anti-Jews not anti-Judaism. As atheists, most of us on this site are anti-Judaism, but that doesn’t make us anti-Semites. In fact, the biggest critics of Judaism are themselves Jewish.

    • ” Let’s keep the term “Islamophobia” to refer to real bigotry, while dropping the term as a facile way of silencing criticism of Islam”

      A little more research is in order-

      Scholars of the Middle East would do well to follow the lead of the Associated Press (AP), which last year struck the political term “Islamophobia” from the new edition of its widely used Stylebook, explaining that “‘-phobia,’ an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness should not be used in political or social contexts, including ‘homophobia’ and ‘Islamophobia.’” Given that the word was invented in the early 1990s by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the Northern Virginia-based International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), in order to silence critics of Islamism by branding them as irrational racists and hate-mongers—according to former IIIT member Abdur-Rahman Muhammad who was present at the time—AP made a wise decision.

      • reply to “A little more research is in order-” by Nodhimmi

        Indeed it is. Perhaps you could go a bit further than the anti-Islam hate-site which you found so instantly convincing. It would also help in assessing your credibility if you had indicated that your post was a quote and where it came from , instead of seeming to take credit for it yourself.

        • In reply to #17 by aldous:

          reply to “A little more research is in order-” by Nodhimmi

          Indeed it is. Perhaps you could go a bit further than the anti-Islam hate-site which you found so instantly convincing. It would also help in assessing your credibility if you had indicated that your post was a quote and where it came from , instead of seeming to take credit for it yourself.

          Here is the article which was being quoted (well, sort of; I think Nodhimmi needs to familiarize himself with the greater than symbol or quotation marks to avoid this sort of thing happening yet again).

          The website in question, for anyone who’s interested, is something called Frontpage Mag an online magazine published by the far right David Horowitz Freedom Center.

  3. Matt Groening said it best, over 23 years ago. Shortly after “The Simpsons” debuted, a journalist asked him why the show had a comical Christian (Ned Flanders) a comical Jew (Krusty The Clown) and a Comical Hindu (Apu The Kwiki-Mart Owner) but no comical Muslims. His answer was, “From what I have observed of that culture, not only do they have no sense of humor, but don’t even appear to be quite sure of what humor is.” And this was three years before the first time the world trade center was attacked.

  4. I guess Arthur Schopenhauer, my favorite philosopher, was oh so islamophobic. But funny!

    He wrote the following:

    “Consider the Koran, for example; this wretched book was sufficient to start a world-religion, to satisfy the metaphysical needs of countless millions for twelve hundred years, to become the basis of their morality and of a remarkable contempt for death, and also to inspire them to bloody wars and the most extensive conquests. Much may be lost in translation, but I have not been able to discover in it one single idea of value.”

  5. Maybe my brain is deteriorating with old age, but I don’t understand why one can’t refuse to vote for a Muslim. Being a Muslim really has no racial connotations. A Muslim is simply someone who believes in a set of ideas. He can be Black, White, Brown or whatever, so race isn’t involved. We are allowed to “hate” Nazis who similarly believe in a set of ideas, and we aren’t accused of Fascist-phobia or being political bigots. What exactly is the objection here? One should never hate people, no matter what insane thing they believe? Just religious ideas cannot be hated? I suppose some might say that most Muslims can really be quite nice people, if you overlook what they believe in. I’m sure it’s possible to say the same thing about most fascists too. Frankly, I was disturbed that Romney’s religious beliefs didn’t come under closer scrutiny during the elections.

    • In reply to #8 by prietenul:

      …Being a Muslim really has no racial connotations. A Muslim is simply someone who believes in a set of ideas. He can be Black, White, Brown or whatever, so race isn’t involved.

      Race has no taxonomic significance; it’s just a social construct. Are two zebras from different parts of Africa whose ancestors haven’t encountered each other for tens of thousands of years and have slightly different physical characteristics because of the environment in which they evolved, members of two separate and distinct races?

      That’s why many of the recent comments on this thread which argue the toss about what makes someone Jewish are missing the point. My understanding is that, as someone said, Jews don’t proselytize, but they do encourage conversion. Welcoming fresh DNA into your ‘race’ keeps it healthy and prevents abnormalities from too much inbreeding occurring.

      It also renders the idea of genetic Jewishness meaningless, if you are considered Jewish even though your mom was a convert to the faith. To quote Tom Paine:

      …it [aristocracy] is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet laureate. @

      And it puts antisemitism and Islamaphobia on an equal footing, particularly when one considers that the vast majority of Muslims are born into the faith and the Qur’an stipulates capital punishment for those who try to leave. How is it okay to declare that discrimination is fine and is even to be encouraged against the religious when the religious people in question have no more say over their faith than they do the colour of their skin?

      The irony is that Jews are more able to announce their lack of belief in God because they can still identify as belonging to a race of people, whereas we have no idea how many Muslim atheists there are in the world.


      I suppose some might say that most Muslims can really be quite nice people, if you overlook what they believe in. I’m sure it’s possible to say the same thing about most fascists too.

      Most fascists are not nice people. I’ll go out on the shortest of limbs and say that there’s no such entity as a nice fascist.

      • In reply to #20 by Katy Cordeth:

        The mental contortions people will put themselves through in the defence of Islam are quite remarkable. Consider the following two propositions, often endorsed both at once as if they were not blatantly contradictory.
        (1) Islam is no more terrible than any other religion and is deserving of no special concern or criticism. (2) Adherents of Islam should not be exposed to criticism of their faith precisely because Islam is so terrible and the doctrinally sanctioned consequences for rejecting it are so dire.

        Racism is absurd. It is not only absurd, however, because people are unable to choose their own ethnic background; racism would remain absurd and abhorrent even if, with the advance of technology, people were able to choose to fundamentally alter their genetic makeup and physical characteristics in order to move from one ‘race’ to another.

        The criticism of bad ideas, however, is not absurd. The fact that people do not choose to be raised within the religion of their parents (and exposed to their bad ideas) does not magically make it so.

        Islam is a set of particularly bad and abhorrent notions: this does not mean that it is therefore deserving of special protection in the open marketplace of ideas. It is in everyone’s interest, especially those raised as Muslims, billions of whom are yet to be born, that Islam is not granted the unwarranted and undeserved privileges that so many, including many who call themselves ‘liberals’, seem determined to claim for it.

  6. What should be done about the ‘bad ideas’ of Islam, which are essentially the same bad ideas as those of Christianity and Judaism, as contained in the Old Testament? Practically speaking, the problem is lack of education and economic development. The scriptures share the same barbarities of a more primitive age but the societies in which the adherents of the religions live have evolved less rapidly in the Islamic world. Political support for the Arab spring, support for human rights, downgrading of relations with Israel and economic aid, where appropriate, are the way forward.

    That is to say that, although sermons about the wickedness of the unenlightened may be satisfying to the preacher and his congregation, they may not improve the situation much.

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