Are Liberals Going to Finally Get It This Time About Islam? (& Polish Translation)

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See end of article for Polish translation

I’m a liberal American. I see my liberal friends eagerly condemn the Christian Right every hour of every day on Facebook and twitter.

 


I wrote a book with a strategy for how we can push back against the many religiously biased American laws, so I’m glad liberals boldly condemn Christian fundamentalism’s impositions on the rest of society.

Take for example Westboro Baptist Church, a tiny group of publicity-hungry lunatics. They are vociferously condemned by liberals in social media on a constant basis.  It’s right to condemn such unjust behavior, but please note that the Westboro Church:

 

1) is a weak and tiny player in the fundamentalist world;

2) has not killed anyone.

 

A few other Christian extremists are violent. Anti-abortion Christians have killed a grand total of fewer than ten Americans in the last twenty years.  This absolutely vile and immoral crime must be condemned no doubt.  

Whether they are the Westboro Baptists or more violent anti-abortion Christian extremists – such fanatics violate a principle that I’d summarize as follows: any ideology, religious or not, that seeks to undermine the human rights of others must be condemned. This principle is particularly important when an ideology advocates or accepts calls to violence against non-violent people.

Sound reasonable? Liberals eagerly apply this principle to Christian Right groups though violence is rarely seen from that quarter.

And yet American liberals, so vehemently opposed to the Christian Right, will cry  “Islamophobia!” if one dares to apply the exact same standard I suggest above to Islam.

I’ll repeat the principle: any ideology, religious or not, that seeks to undermine the human rights of others must be condemned. This principle is particularly important when an ideology advocates or accepts calls to violence against non-violent people.

Anticipating the cry of Islamophobia, I’d ask liberals to pause before attacking: I served a decade in my state legislature, so my stands are public record. I served on committees that dealt with human rights.  I was elected Whip by my Democratic colleagues.  I made many public decisions about human rights and minority rights. I had a 100% voting record with a premier liberal group in my legislature (The Maine Women’s Lobby). I had that 100% record not for one term — but 100% for ten years running.  I initiated numerous pieces of legislation that became law – over thirty laws in fact – laws that, in most cases, would be described as liberal.

 

Combine this record with my stands on issues pertaining to Muslims.  For example, I:

 

  1) support immigration reform (including for Muslims).

  2) condemn any and all prejudice against Arab people.

  3) publicly opposed the invasion of Iraq and did so early – in 2003 – while I was an elected official — at a time when that insanely stupid idea was quite popular.  

  4) support that Mr. Tsarnaev (the surviving Marathon bomber) gets his full due process rights under American law.

  5) Oppose what is commonly known as profiling.

 

Liberals, seemingly by rote, attack anyone who mentions facts connecting Islam and violence as an "Islamophobe."  However, given my history and positions, that  assertion is a big stretch.

Let’s address the merits instead. I challenge liberals to ask themselves, is their stand on human rights consistent?

Just imagine the screams of outrage and calls for action amongst American liberals if there were, let's say, ten examples of attempted acts of terror with the intent to kill committed in the last ten years on American soil by those who, themselves, say their violence was motivated by their belief in fundamentalist Christianity. Liberals would never stop spewing with outrage – and good for them. That would be the entirely appropriate reaction.

 

Now consider this:

 

A 2006 Pew survey asked adult Muslims under age 30 how often suicide bombing could be justified to “defend Islam.”

 Of that category 26% answered either sometimes or rarely in the United States, 29% in Spain, 35% in Britain, and 42% in France.   I heartily commend the Muslim majority in these western countries that opposed such violence — flat out.  The great majority of Muslims are good decent peaceful people.  No one – ever – should say all Muslims think A or B.

But the idea that violence is accepted only by some vanishingly small minority of Muslims is just false.

Violence is viewed as potentially justifiable by a significant minority of Muslims. 26%? 29%? 35%? 42%? Those percentages constitute hundreds of thousands of people (just in these few Western countries) – people who are Muslim and who connect that ideology – their ideology — with a justification for violence.

Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain.

In another poll 24 per cent agreed or tended to agree that the 7/7 London bombings were justified. (Please note that there were 52 innocent people killed in the 7/7 Islamic terrorist attack and more than 700 injured).

Of British Muslims age 16-24 polled, 
36 percent think apostates should be killed.

In America the percentage of Muslims who think suicide bombing, for example, is sometimes justified is much smaller than in most other nations. And yet that “small” number (about 8%) is about 200,000 people – in America – who think suicide bombing can sometimes be justified. 

In a recently released Pew poll, 29% of Egyptian Muslims think suicide bombing is sometimes justified.  And 65% of Muslims in the highly populated nations of Pakistan and Egypt think the death penalty is justified for leaving Islam.

Mohammed Atta grew up in Egypt. Mr. Atta became famous upon his death on September 11, 2001 when he and other terrorists killed 2977 innocent people. Some will argue that 9/11 was anomalous. I’d argue that the Oklahoma City bombing (that killed 168 people) was, in part, justified by the fundamentalist Christian beliefs of Mr. McVeigh but others disagree.  

If we leave those two largest attacks aside, we still face the reality that there were over forty documented successful or attempted terror attacks in the United States with an Islamic radicalist motivation since 1990. 

It is simply recognizing reality to acknowledge that no other self-identified religiously-affiliated terror effort has a similar record.  Approximately four times as many people in the United States died from attacks based on Islam than on Christianity since 1990 – IF we leave out 9/11 and Oklahoma City. But the overall number (over forty attacks or attempted attacks) is perhaps the most telling.

It is the combination of these factors that is uniquely troubling. Islamic culture is a culture – even in the west — in which — NOT a majority – but a very significant minority — say that violence is justified in reaction to apostasy and insult to Mohammed.  A considerable minority of Muslims support suicide bombing in some circumstances.  From this culture we see over forty acts of terror or attempted acts of terror in the United States. America has been subject to fewer such attacks than many other nations.

 

My fellow liberals: please stop ignoring reality.

 

I know why you do it because I’m a liberal too. I vehemently oppose mob mentality. I adamantly commend the solid majority of Muslims in many western countries for being good peace-loving citizens.   I commend, and share, the American liberal commitment to thwart mob behavior in a nation that once put Japanese in camps, and that enslaved African-Americans. It is a very noble principle — but there must be a way to avoid mob rule — and still tell the truth and take wiser action in the face of that reality, and that is what I here to suggest.

Because it is the truth.  Most of the victims of Muslim extremism are not in America, or other western nations. They are the citizens of numerous Muslim majority countries where women’s rights are denied in torturous and deadly ways, and so-called apostates and violators of Sharia are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned, or killed.

The polls show how serious the problem is — not because most western Muslims themselves would engage in such action — but because there is a widespread culture within even Western-nation Islam – not the majority mind you – but a population of millions nonetheless, that says violent action is acceptable.  Some people find their “answer” in life within that culture, within that allegedly “moral” religious authority.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s interest in radical Islam was not some hyper-rare exception. It was a religious path that has become familiar.

Nidal Malik Hasan, a doctor, expressed religious motivations when he slaughtered people at Fort Hood – but many liberals seemingly want to ignore his sincerely stated religious beliefs.

Najibullah Zazi, who planned the subway attack, said he was motivated by Islam.

Faisall Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber, said he was motivated by his religion.

Anwar al-Awlawki, the quite popular New Mexican Imam, who preached — successfully in some cases — for the killing of Americans, was an expressly religious figure who cited religious texts eloquently — with the goal of inciting violent action.

It is a very small percentage who carry out the terrorist actions, but a large subset of Islam, more so than any other religion today, that provides the imprimatur of Godliness — supported by many Imams and other authority figures – an imprimatur for terror and killing. Yes, the Christians did many violent things centuries ago, and  Christians do some violent things now. Right-wing Christians, as I document in my book, lobby successfully to create many horrific and unjust American laws, but it would be dishonest for me not to concede that what we see in a large minority of Islam is on a whole different level.

Mohammed Atta, a man of achievement in higher education, was the cell leader who – justified by a stunningly sincere religious belief — annihilated himself and thousands of others on 9/11.  

America’s invasion of Iraq was a blazingly stupid decision certain to inflame hatred against American in the Middle East, but, just as a mob mentality against Muslims is wrong, it is also wrong to accept a mob mentality within a significant portion of Islam (e.g. it’s acceptable to kill the apostate, impose Sharia on others, suicide bomb in some cases, treat women in a deeply sexist and often dangerous manner).

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.  

Facing reality is the first step to progress.   So, can American liberals  now  – after the Boston Marathon, after the recent Al Qaida terror attempt in Canada — finally accept reality. The next step is to ask what to do. Pitchforks? Torches? Denial of civil liberties? Not a bit of it.  

However, we must seek direct engagement — not attack. Not personal vitriol. Direct engagement.

If liberals can – with great vitriol – condemn the Christian Right (as they do constantly), then liberals can treat Islam like any other ideology — because Islam is just another ideology – like the Tea Party, like the Christian Right. Islam must be subject to the same rough and tumble of ideas as is any other ideology.

Of course the strong majority of Muslims are good decent law abiding citizens — but for those who embrace the term moderate Muslims, it is now time for increased direct engagement:

 

1) Let us all, Muslims and liberals, join together directly, forcefully and publicly condemn the level of acceptance of violence indicated in the polling I cite.  Ask the question: will imams and other Muslims leaders take substantive steps beyond a mere post-bombing statement (“we condemn the most recent terrorist attack.)”  To warrant the term “moderate” Muslims, particularly community leaders, must, in partnership with liberals, do the following:

 

  • publicly and vehemently condemn all those who accept any form of violence in response to apostasy – not              merely condemn the violence itself – condemn those who say it is an acceptable action by others.
  • publicly and vehemently condemn any acceptance of violence in response to the satirizing of Islam or of Muhammad.
  • publicly and vehemently condemn any acceptance of violence in furtherance of the political aims of Islam.
  • State with vehemence that the Muslim community is failing to meet its moral obligations if 5% or more of Muslims in polling accept violence in the name of Islam. Muslim leaders who call themselves moderate must publicly condemn those Muslims who disagree with meeting this standard.

 

Only the Muslims who embrace these steps can truly call themselves moderate.

 

2) Liberals and moderate Muslims must celebrate those in the Islamic world who stand up for freedom of conscience, specifically including those who disagree with an aspect or all of Islam. Otherwise they are not liberal. Otherwise they are not moderate. Those in majority Muslim countries who say they don’t believe Islam should be celebrated for expressing their own ideas – not chopped up with a machete – as recently happened in Bangladesh. There are groups taking action on this topic now that need support. For example, Maryam Namazie is a brave women of Iranian descent who is a spokesperson for ex-Muslims in Britain.  People like Maryam,  who speak out against Islamic sexism and violent ideology, must be celebrated by American liberals and moderate Muslims alike — celebrated as the heroes they are — because these heroes are voices for civil liberties facing the reality in many circumstances in which their lives are in danger simply because they speak their mind.  Liberals must welcome and encourage former Muslims who say they have had enough of a culture that teaches sexism and, in many cases, violence.  Moderate Muslims, to be called moderate, must embrace and praise these brave “apostates” who speak for their own conscience, even when — particularly when – they reject some or all aspects of Islamic doctrine. These heroes can only be celebrated if liberals speak out adamantly and publicly against a right-wing culture in some Muslim-majority countries that facilitates killing and maiming of these people of conscience.

 

3) Those who are in fact liberals and those who are in fact moderate Muslims will adamantly call on the US government to openly and forcefully challenge the flagrant violations of human rights in the Islamic world – the rampant and violent sexism, the attacks on so-called apostates. The US Government and the international community must invest in coordinated effort to get secular education funded, and women’s rights organizations funded, in nation’s most vulnerable to extremist ideology. These must be a public high priority of the US Government and the combined force of moderate Muslims and liberals can do much to achieve this human rights imperative.

 

4) The Richard Dawkins Foundation is helping to organize freethought conventions in every US state and in every nation. Often religious people come in contact with secular ideas at such conventions and choose to embrace an Enlightenment worldview.  I see this regularly when moderating the Richard Dawkins Foundation Facebook page where, for example, people who came from fundamentalist Muslim background find themselves coming to embrace an Enlightenment worldview.  Liberals and moderates must celebrate this effort. Liberals should help lead it, and encourage people of all religions who support a secular viewpoint to participate in Freethought conventions.  Former-Muslims should be invited – current Muslims should be invited! – to such conventions.  The Dawkins Foundation can help with this important human rights effort that can and should be supported by all moderates and all liberals.

These steps are the steps appropriate to real liberalism. These steps are the actions of truly moderate Muslims.  It is time for liberals to face squarely fundamentalist bigotry , as they have with the handful of people involved in the Westboro Baptist Church, and face, sadly, a fundamentalist bigotry that involves much more loss of human life.

We must never attack anyone personally, or condemn any people as a category — but we must condemn any and all violent and sexist ideologies relentlessly on all fronts and challenge Islamic leaders to really step up and create a zero tolerance policy against such attitudes. That is the true path of real liberals. That is the true path of moderation. So far liberalism in the US has failed in this important human rights cause. That must change.  The people who have the most to gain are Muslims — particularly women.  It is time for American liberals to join this important human rights movement.

Sean Faircloth is author of Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All & What We Can Do About It.  Faircloth is Director of Strategy & Policy at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. Faircloth served ten years in the Maine legislature.

 

http://www.pewforum.org/The-Future-of-the-Global-Muslim-Population.aspx?print=false

http://my.telegraph.co.uk/danielpycock/danpycock/956/what-do-british-muslims-think-of-the-uk/

http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/20/older-brother-in-boston-bombings-grew-increasingly-religious-analysis-shows/

http://pewresearch.org/files/old-assets/pdf/muslim-americans.pdf

http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/muslim-americans-no-signs-of-growth-in-alienation-or-support-for-extremism/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/05/01/islam-muslim-pew-research/2124941/


Czy liberałowie tym razem wreszcie zrozumieją? 

Autor tekstu: Sean Faircloth

Tłumaczenie: Małgorzata Koraszewska

Jestem liberalnym Amerykaninem. Obserwuję każdego dnia moich liberalnych przyjaciół gorliwie potępiających chrześcijańską prawicę na Facebooku i na Twitterze.

Sam napisałem książkę o tym, jak zwalczać w Ameryce ustawy uchwalone pod wpływem nacisków fundamentalnych grup religijnych, cieszę się więc, że liberałowie śmiało potępiają narzucanie chrześcijańskiego fundamentalizmu reszcie społeczeństwa.

Weźmy na przykład Westboro Baptist Church, małą grupę szukających rozgłosu szaleńców. Są oni nieustannie potępiani przez liberałów w mediach społecznościowych. Potępianie tak fanatycznego zachowania jest słuszne, ale warto zauważyć, że Westboro Church:

1) jest w świecie fundamentalistów słabym i małym graczem;

2) nikogo nie zabili.

Niektórzy inni ekstremiści chrześcijańscy stosują przemoc. Chrześcijanie przeciwko aborcji na przestrzeni ostatnich dwudziestu lat zabili w sumie mniej niż dziesięciu Amerykanów . Nie ulega wątpliwości, że ich potworna i niemoralna zbrodnia musi być potępiona.

Czytaj dalej

Written By: Sean Faircloth
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86 COMMENTS

  1. During the 1930s in Europe, the rise of fascism was not opposed enough because people were terrified of the Communists. Hitler was able to rise to power and engulf the world in a bloodbath because the leaders of the European states AND the church were afraid of the Communists. They were not able to see that the cure was worse than the disease.

    So too in this case, liberals are terrified of Christians and their blinders prevent them from seeing the problems with Islam.

    • In reply to #1 by Jay G:

      Well during the 2000′s Bush-Blair&Co were able to engulf Afganistan and Iraq into a bloodbath because Europeans and Americans were affraid of the Fundamentalist terrorists…
      p.s: this is not meant to be a comparison of these in scale with WWII

  2. Jay G, I think the loathing for christians doesn’t translate to a similar loathing towards muslims because muslims are not “the mainstream”. I can’t be sure this is correct, but it seems that the difference is one of opressing/opressed groups. Libs can be looking at christian fundamentalists and thinking they are a threat to their rights, while looking at muslims and seeing only another group whose “rights” are being threathened(is this the right spelling?) by that “unholy” right-wing/christian fundamentalist alliance. Looks to be one of those “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” situations.

  3. Gr8 article well written and well focused on finding solutions. I think it is time that all religious institutions should be controlled and Monitored and priests and Mulla’s should be appointed and certified by a government body. They should only speak good moral things and liberal things to create a society where we all can co-exist. We would have to hijack religious believes and point them to more moral values to make them modern.
    If any priest does not abide by the rules of government he would loose his certification and would not be allowed to speak in any church or mosque or other place.

    All religious scholars should be appointed by a government body and number of religious places should be limited to a reduced number. We should be getting same moral values dictated by all these places weather church,mosque or temple.
    This is how we can get a better new generation of modern Muslims who would be very similar to modern Christians.

    • No.

      In reply to #3 by hali14syed:

      Gr8 article well written and well focused on finding solutions. I think it is time that all religious institutions should be controlled and Monitored and priests and Mulla’s should be appointed and certified by a government body. They should only speak good moral things and liberal things to create…

  4. I think I would need to know more about those surveys. For example, does the view that suicide bombing might sometimes be justified refer to the Western country in which the respondents are living? They might be referring to attacks on an occupying military power in the country of origin. Given the situations in some of those countries I can see how this could be seen that way. I don’t agree, but it’s no worse than many westerners arguing for military intervention in many situations elsewhere. I would like to see much more targeted surveys – for example, asking UK Muslims if they approved of such bombings in the UK specifically. Many UK Muslims will say that apostasy is punishable by death under Islam (which it is) but that it should not be carried out in the UK because that would be against UK law, and Muslims living in non-Muslim countries are commanded to obey the laws of those host countries. It isn’t always as simple as it seems.

    • How very broad minded of them, to not apply the death penalty for apostasy if it’s against the host country’s secular laws.
      But it’s okay in other countries?

      In reply to #4 by Psylegal:

      I think I would need to know more about those surveys. For example, does the view that suicide bombing might sometimes be justified refer to the Western country in which the respondents are living? They might be referring to attacks on an occupying military power in the country of origin. Given the…

  5. What is the correlation between liberalism and atheism? For example, I myself am militantly atheist, but despise liberalism, which to me is little more than a degenerate form of Christianity. From where in nature or the scientific method do atheists justify their liberal ideology? Don’t you see that most of your “liberal” values have their origins in Christianity? I would like to see “new atheists” draw a sharper distinction between atheism and political ideologies, rather than being torch-bearers for a rather weaksauce brand of liberalism/leftism. I would also like to see them promote a more aggressive, Nietzschean brand of atheism. Otherwise, you may find yourself conceding a lot of moral high ground to the slave religionists, whose memes have colonized your minds from birth.

    • In reply to #5 by Imperius:

      Don’t you see that most of your “liberal” values have their origins in Christianity?

      People reach a certain age and they realize where their ideologies come from. You’re not the first person to figure it out. Then we pick and choose which ones we want to keep.

    • In reply to #5 by Imperius:

      What is the correlation between liberalism and atheism? For example, I myself am militantly atheist, but despise liberalism…

      It makes me curious what it is about liberalism (that is, a worldview founded on liberty and equality) that you abhor?

      As a raging liberal (which is to say one who was moderate in the early ’90s before all my “progressive” representatives swung far to the right of me)

      But I’m an odd bird, I suppose. I imagine most Muslims, for example, don’t think a young girl should have been shot in the face for wanting an education, and those that I do condemn, I do so for shooting a girl in the face. The same can be said about acts of terror, though I can understand why, in an asymmetric war, the lesser side might resort to terror to be acknowledged. Maybe I’m wrong, but there’s a lot of disinformation from and about Islam so I am assuredly ill informed.

    • In reply to #5 by Imperius:

      Hi Imperius,

      What is the correlation between liberalism and atheism?

      None. Atheism is not a philosophy or a religion, it has no dogma like Communism or Republicanism.

      Pick a political party, any in the World. In many, if not most, cases it will be possible for an atheist to be a member of that party. Even the parties that are overtly religious are also, usually, misusing a religion as a cultural tie – and atheists will, however reluctantly, be found in their ranks.

      It seems to me that you’re confusing atheists with humanists. According to the British Humanist Association:

      The word humanist means someone who:

      • Trusts to the scientific method when it comes to understanding how the Universe works, and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore an atheist or agnostic)

      • Makes their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals

      • Believes that, in the absence of an afterlife and any discernible purpose to the universe, human beings can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same

      There is a strong correlation between being an atheist and being a humanist.

      Is there a strong correlation, therefore, between humanists and liberalism? Yes.

      Liberals and humanists agree on a political philosophy founded on individual liberty and equality among and between citizens. Generally they both support ideas such as innocent until proven guilty, no detention without due process, democracy, civil rights, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience (incl. religion). They are sometimes divided on other things such as the role of the State, personal property rights and organized labor.

      I myself am militantly atheist, but despise liberalism, which to me is little more than a degenerate form of Christianity.

      How fascinating.

      From where in nature or the scientific method do atheists justify their liberal ideology?

      They don’t. Atheists simply say that they do not believe a god or gods exist. An Agnostic says that they see no evidence of a god or gods and therefore conclude a god or gods is still possible but not proved. Thus, it is possible (and in my experience this is very common) to be both atheist and agnostic.

      A Humanist will believe that the scientific method gives the best explanations for most things that require explanations – not forgetting that most humanists think this is the only life we’ll get and that, therefore, it is far more important to support each other and work out the best way forward for the common good than it is to worry about, say, origins.

      Don’t you see that most of your “liberal” values have their origins in Christianity?

      As it happens I took the British Humanist Association’s quiz (available free on-line) and they say I’m approximately 86% humanist. I also think of myself as a Liberal most of the time. I do not have an ideology. I support many liberal ideas having justified each one individually – on their own merits. Most liberals, in my experience, are the same. Liberals have no Karl Marx or Ayn Rand.

      I would like to see “new atheists” draw a sharper distinction between atheism and political ideologies …

      There is no distinction to be drawn. Only you are confused.

      I would also like to see them promote a more aggressive, Nietzschean brand of atheism. Otherwise, you may find yourself conceding a lot of moral high ground to the slave religionists, whose memes have colonized your minds from birth.

      Politics is about changing minds. What we need is less strategy more one-to-one discussion.

      Peace.

      • In reply to #37 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

        In reply to #5 by Imperius:

        Hi Imperius,

        Well there is also a strong correlation between atheism and transhumanism, which I would like to suggest is the cutting-edge of atheist ideology. The problem with humanism is that it’s first principle, “man is the measure of all things”, is myopic and obviously false, not unlike religious teachings that put man at the center of God’s creation. Transhumanism is an attempt to take evolution and scientific atheism seriously, rather than to produce a kind of feel-good atheism which is largely secularized Christianity. I really think it’s time that scientifically literate people became more aware of the degree to which their minds have been colonized by Judeo-Christian memes, and began eradicating them. The truths revealed by science are rather stark, and require strong minds deconditioned from non-fundamental memeplexes like Christianity and secular humanism.

        So for the person who asked what is is about liberal values that I abhor, it’s primarily their arbitrariness and lack of any basis in reality. Liberalism is as made-up and delusional an ideology as Christianity as far as I’m concerned; nothing in nature supports it. How can people who understand evolution and genetics support absurd ideas like “all men are created equal” or “liberté, égalité, fraternité?” This is pure religious thinking!

        The kind of atheism I want to promote is one which accepts the essentially “fascistic” nature of the world we live in; that is, it doesn’t try to deny that everything exists in a struggle for power and evolutionary dominance, including humans. The unwillingness of liberals to do this explains their general impotence in the face of aggressive religious memeplexes like Islam, and suggests to me that it has little future in the highly competitive, globalized 21st century world. However, a power-oriented, transhumanist ideology that seeks global domination and makes no apologies seems well-suited to survive and thrive. This is the spirit of all successful memetic and genetic life, and without it, I believe liberal atheism is simply doomed.

        What is the correlation between liberalism and atheism?

        None. Atheism is not a philosophy or a religion, it has no dogma like Communism or Republicanism.

        Pick a political party, any in the World. In many, if not most, cases it will be possible for an at…

        • In reply to #49 by Imperius:

          In reply to #37 by Stephen of Wimbledon:
          Liberalism is as made-up and delusional an ideology as Christianity as far as I’m concerned; nothing in nature supports it.
          How can people who understand evolution and genetics support absurd ideas like “all men are created equal” or “liberté, égalité, fraternité?”

          Why would anyone look to nature for support for a political or ethical position?

          “All men are created equal” is usually taken to mean all people should have equal rights. It is a political or ethical statement of principle. Not a belief that people are biological clones.

          Michael

    • In reply to #5 by Imperius:

      What is the correlation between liberalism and atheism? For example, I myself am militantly atheist, but despise liberalism, which to me is little more than a degenerate form of Christianity. From where in nature or the scientific method do atheists justify their liberal ideology? Don’t you see that…

      While there could be a correlation between certain religions and certain political ideologies, I don’t see how atheism could have any real correlation with a specific political ideology. I just means you don’t believe in a God.

      You can be capitalist and atheist, you can be socialist and atheist , you can be environmentalist and atheist, etc…

      One correlation I could think of , is “freethought” ( ideology that decisions should be based on reason, not on dogma ).
      A free thinker would become an atheist upon examining religions.

    • Western ideas such as democracy and the idea of a republic, have their origins in the political philosophy of the pagans of classical Greco-Rome. These values began to be “rediscovered”during the Renaissance in Europe., when Christendom looked to classical Greece and Rome. Until that point, European. Christians were living in the dark ages, kind of like many Islamic are now. Then Christiandom went through a reformation, then the Enlightenment. It did not and could not have happened without the rediscovery of ancient and Classical Greek and roman texts. Which, incidentally, we’re rediscovered by Christians because the Persians had kept copies of them after the fall of Rome.
      This is not to say that Christianity played no role in the Enlightenment, when you think of Locke for example. Obviously, the reflowering of intellect in the west occurred in a Christian world, and yes, the religion of Christ did contribute and help refine these ideas. However the foundation for this was the classical pagan world, from which the roots of our western intellectual tradition derives. For example, if the west during the renaissance had been pagans or were atheists, there is no reason to think they would not have also built on our Classical Philosophical and political inheritance. It can even be argued that Christianity actually retarded this process, not just in the dark ages, but for example in the persecution of early modern scientists of Europe.

      I sincerely do not mean this to be rude or as an insult, but with all due respect, it baffles me how an educated person wouldn’t be aware of the fact that the foundation of western philosophy and political thought and of western civilization lies in pagan Greece and Rome. That is where the later Christian and Deists of Renaissance and premodern Europe got their ideas from. The rediscovery and eventual embrace of Classicism completely revolutionized and altered the path of Christian society and lifted it out of the dark ages.

      I have a humanities degree from an ivy, which has probably afforded me much more exposure to western history than many people. But it seems like fairly public information one can read Bacon, Montaigne, etc at Gutenberg or library,.

      I’m sorry about typos, I’m on an ipad.

  6. Not bad except for a few things. I too consider myself something of a liberal. But unlike a true liberal or conservative I don’t adhere to strict guidelines set up by the proponents of those tenets. I am flexible in my beliefs. For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is. I don’t support immigration reform regarding muslims. I believe that if the “religion” were eradicated from the face of the earth we’d all be better off. Prior to 911 anyone who walked the streets of NYC could hear them on sidewalks denouncing Americans, specifically white Americans, and espousing death. This was allowed because of free speech. Those radicals are rarely seen anymore because we don’t put up with it. I also don’t oppose profiling. When looking for white collar crime one does not look in poor areas, so when looking for crimes that take place in poor areas why is profiling all of a sudden wrong? Political correctness has gone berserk. I’ll laugh at fat, old, white guy jokes as well as Jewish, Catholic, black and Polish jokes. But only if they’re funny. Sean you spend too much time lauding your own liberal-ness instead of your individuality. Frankly I’d think you be more proud if you’d gotten less than 100%, at least then you’d be showing some individual thinking.

    • In reply to #6 by steveo00:

      For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is.

      Well, you know, what you believe is mostly correct, I’m sad to say. Maybe not “every single one of them”, but I saw and heard people I know well enough rejoice countless times, when Americans die.

      I consider myself very liberal, but I pretty much agree with everything you wrote.

    • In reply to #6 by steveo00:

      I too consider myself something of a liberal. But unlike a true liberal or conservative I don’t adhere to strict guidelines set up by the proponents of those tenets. I am flexible in my beliefs.

      Well, bully for those whose principles are pliant and can be discarded when it becomes expedient. I’m a vegetarian, but only between meals.

      …For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is…

      Fascinating. In there any basis for this belief that about 1.7 billion of your fellow humans are psychopaths, or is it just what your gut tells you?

      If you’re a liberal, I’m a banana.

    • In reply to #6 by steveo00:

      Not bad except for a few things. I too consider myself something of a liberal. But unlike a true liberal or conservative I don’t adhere to strict guidelines set up by the proponents of those tenets. I am flexible in my beliefs. For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doo…

      Profiling is vital. If you know there is a turf war being fought between two Vietnamese gangs, pulling over everyone from black to yellow to solve the problem is not going to help. You have to profile and focus on the Vietnamese in the troubled areas. After all, gangs profile when seeking members. Businesses profile when seeking employees and police profile when seeking recruits. The police should profile when looking for suspects, so long as it fits within the specifics of the situation. Vietnamese turf war, profile Vietnamese.

      The problem arises when people who fit within the profile are treated as guilty or simply mistreated without evidence to support the police’s behaviour.

  7. If surveys of the same format a those to which you refer to were given to the same social demographic of western Christians, what percentages do you think would say that drone attacks in Pakistan (for example) are justified?

    Just saying- be careful how you wave that tarred brush of yours.

    I’m not condoning any violent course of action but I am keen to point out that opinion is so often manipulated through selective presentation of statistics particularly without appropriate comparators. As a confessed ‘liberal’, surely you will agree that both sides of an argument should be presented on equal terms.

  8. Nice article, I am not sure if this story is cultural or religious tradition or a mix of both but although a little off the central topic this is another reminder of harm through ignorance in a strongly Islamic community
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-22378754

    I find the numbers shocking, but in other stories I have seen in television programs discussing such issues the families involved appeared to be in denial and defended their inbreeding tradition.

  9. Very nice article, but another thing that drives me nuts is when I hear someone say that “all religions are equally good/bad”. Just not true. I casually know quite a few Buddhists for example, and I can’t really say they cause much trouble to anyone. One of them DID hurt someone because of her religion, but that someone is HERSELF: that person went NUTS because of her religion.

    I liked when Sam Harris pointed out that the extremists of some religions are actually LESS dangerous than the “moderates”. Jains do not eat honey because they don’t want to steal the fruit of the hard work of the bees. “Extreme” Jains won’t hurt the pests that infest their homes!

  10. During 26/11 (Mumbai terror attack) one Turkish couple was spared by the terrorists as the lady started Islamic rituals/prayer. The reason they were not killed by the terrorists was the fact that the couple was Muslim. Had this couple been Indian Muslims (thus politically equivalent to an Indian Hindu), they would have been spared still. Now, the question I want to raise (to those who see these terror attacks only-politically motivated) is: how do you explain this insidious nexus (possibly one-way if we are lucky) between the Islamic terrorist and Islamic–non-terrorists, disregarding the political outlook of the latter (ie, muslim moderates)?
    btw, my source of information is from Channel 4 (UK) doc on the topic aired post 26/11. I follow this channel as this seems favorite to RD as well. I believe the media need to raise such questions that flies in the face of liberal interpretation of terrorism.

  11. “But the idea that violence is accepted only by some vanishingly small minority of Muslims is just false…I adamantly commend the solid majority of Muslims in many western countries for being good peace-loving citizens. “

    Anyone who knows how to read a chart(http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/04/daily-chart-20?fsrc=scn/tw/te/dc/Shariadolikeit) can see that the countries who have the greatest percentage of Muslims has the highest percentage of extremist views.

    I have a theory about why religious people are so angry. It’s because people are born with a certain amount of intelligence, and when beliefs conflict with the evidence gathered over a lifetime, an inner battle festers like a 4th trimester pregnancy. They’ll either be born into reality, or die in the womb.

  12. The problem with many liberals is that they really are no such thing. They are liberal in name only. They don’t see the world as a place where all cultures and people are equal and should be free to live their lives they way they choose free from oppression. They don’t view oppression as the application of law, authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner or as the violence of one group to another.

    They view the world as a cosmic battle between “oppressed” minorities and white male “oppressors”. They don’t view real oppression in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and North Korea as oppression worthy of outrage and opposition (as in their view it is all either a reaction to Western (white) imperialism or a racist lie cooked up to legitimise invasions)

    They view a world where all cultures and people are equal, accept Western cultures and white people which either do not exist or are evil and oppressive.

    They focus maximum outrage at heterosexual white men (most of whom are liberal when it comes to questions of equality) who find women attractive and fail to use the right politically correct lexicon or white Christian politicians who vote with their conscience.

    If there is one prominent political group today most likely to support hard line conservative religion and condemn others based on the colour of their skin, sexuality and gender it’s liberals.

    The kind of conservatives who would openly denigrate a person of colour or a woman or show solidarity with the Westboro Baptist Church are a tiny fringe.

    Liberals who openly support right wing Muslims and demonise white heterosexual men are a massive constituency.

    Most liberals reserve more outrage at the police using pepper spray at Occupy Wall Street than they do for the public hanging of gays in Iran.

    Who is really the conservative, who is really the racist?

    Liberals need to look in the mirror

    • In reply to #14 by Freshverbal:

      The problem with many liberals is that they really are no such thing. They are liberal in name only. They don’t see the world as a place where all cultures and people are equal and should be free to live their lives they way they choose free from oppression. They don’t view oppression as the applica…

      The people you’re describing in your post aren’t liberals but fanatical anti-Western leftists, infected by a memeplex which is as dogmatic as any religion and as hostile to rational discussion. There’s no way to debate these types; they will call you a fascist/racist while they shout you down and censor you. All you can do is ensure that their power is minimized and yours is maximized, which shouldn’t be too difficult given their general stupidity. The important thing is not to let leftists infect liberals, who are often susceptible to their emotional appeals. Because if you let leftist memes grow unchecked, you may face a situation where the liberals form a suicidal pact with the leftists, and you will get to watch your civilization be dismantled in the name of some leftist ideological fantasy (see the modern U.K., “multiculti” Europe, etc.).

      I do believe the tide is turning however, thanks in no small part to principled atheists like Sam Harris, and many liberals are waking up to the contradictions and absurdities of reflexively anti-Western ideology. The leftist memetic engineers have drastically overplayed their hand throughout the Western world, and hopefully now they’ll be driven back to the margins where they belong.

    • In reply to #14 by Freshverbal:

      Most liberals reserve more outrage at the police using pepper spray at Occupy Wall Street than they do for the public hanging of gays in Iran.

      I personally observed plenty of outrage over that incident, so maybe you should stop being so concerned with people looking in mirrors and do more research. Iran is on so many notices from liberals, and what good does it really do?

      • In reply to #23 by mmarieden:

        I personally observed plenty of outrage over that incident, so maybe you should stop being so concerned with people lookin…

        No True Scotsman!

        I think you will find a great many liberals are much less likely to criticise Iran for serious crimes against humanity than they are willing to condemn minor misdemeanors carried out by British or American police.

        It’s funny all my liberal friends seem to spend every ounce of their being condemning legitimate police tactics like stop & search as racist or flying off the handle and describing Israeli, American or British military action as genocide at the same time as implying that legitimate critics of Islam -like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins- are racist but whenever anyone pulls them on it they claim that they are being strawmanned and have always fought reactionary Islam with gusto.

        • In reply to #29 by Freshverbal:

          It’s funny all my liberal friends seem to spend every ounce of their being condemning legitimate police tactics like stop & search as racist or flying off the handle and describing Israeli, American or British military action as genocide at the same time as implying that legitimate critics of Islam -like Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins- are racist but whenever anyone pulls them on it they claim that they are being strawmanned and have always fought reactionary Islam with gusto…

          Maybe the definition of Liberal does need redefining–to people in Media–claiming to be Liberal, who lead the bandwagons on some of those red herring issues, and calling “conspiracy theorist” to anyone pressing the real issues. But you can’t say “most Liberals” when many of them are in name only, following the self-righteous bandwagon normal human beings(its our nature) tend to do.

  13. The “islamophobia” attacks I’ve seen (not to say that I’ve seen tons of them) have come from the religious left (religious and anticapitalist). I would not be surprised if the recent attacks on Dawkins and other prominent atheists are coming from that source. They really don’t like atheists.

  14. The gist of this article is that “only” ¼ of Muslims are bad and ¾ are good. The problem is, there are more than a billion of them. that means there are more than 250,000,000 of them out there who want to kill us all, and don’t care if they kill themselves in the process.

  15. I feel steveo00 makes a good point regarding the secret opinions of Muslims regarding their feelings for the west. Ok, so x% says they think suicide killings are justified. That doesnt mean they are telling the truth. Perhaps they feel it but dont want to be pointed out as someone who supports it. They may not be the type of people to commit the action themselves but they dont see it as a bad thing when it happens because we are infidels anyway.
    Whilst at Birmingham airport last year going on exercise with the army, we managed to make an entire baggage collection belt go quiet. We collected our kit and walked passed a belt from a flight just in from Islamabad. They pretty much all went silent or whispered to each other as they eyed us up.You could hear the wheels of our baggage trolleys it was that quiet. Are you telling me they went silent out of respect? Or is it because they all have an underlying hatred for the average British soldier that works his ass off in shit conditions to defend his country? I cant imagine a flight from Salt Lake City would go quiet, or one from Tokyo or Dehli or Cape Town.

    • They might have been worried because, knowing the suspicion Muslims are regarded with at airports, British military forces had been sent to investigate them. I’m not disagreeing with Faircloth’s post in any way, or your comment; just providing an alternative theory as to why an army presence at an airport might make a group of Muslims go quiet!

      Great piece, Sean, although it would have benefited from a quick proofread.

      /checks own comment seven times.

      In reply to #22 by AtheistSquaddie:

      I feel steveo00 makes a good point regarding the secret opinions of Muslims regarding their feelings for the west. Ok, so x% says they think suicide killings are justified. That doesnt mean they are telling the truth. Perhaps they feel it but dont want to be pointed out as someone who supports it. T…

  16. The short answer to the question “Are Liberals Going to Finally Get It This Time About Islam?” is, I suspect, for the most part, probably not. The liberals that do finally get it, and are willing to say so publicly, will instantly be denounced as defectors to the political right.

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  18. Sean Faircloth wants “moderate” muslims to “publicly and vehemently condemn any acceptance of violence in response to the satirizing of Islam or of Muhammad.”

    Very commendable, but GOOD LUCK. Long before September 11, when Rushdie published “The Satanic Verses” and a fatwa was emitted calling for his death, my cannot-be-more-moderate-than-that relative casually told me that “of course he must die, he insulted the Prophet!”

    While I (grudgingly) have a lot of sympathy for many oriental religions, I think Islam is a lost case. It has a very particular, rigid structure that makes it irreformable.

  19. Everything Faircloth says here is vague. I don’t necessarily disagree with any particular point because there really aren’t any specific points that are tangible enough to disagree with. For example consider this quote from the article:

    “Liberals, seemingly by rote, attack anyone who mentions facts connecting Islam and violence as an “Islamophobe.”

    Who are the liberals that do this? I’m not aware of any. Surely if liberals do this seemingly by rote you should be able to provide plenty of examples.

    BTW, I’m not claiming that liberals never say stupid things about Islam. I’m sure they do. What I don’t believe is that there is some over riding pattern where they by rote attack anyone who mentions facts connecting to Islam. And to determine if something someone says is an irrational attack or a rational argument you need to talk in specifics.

    Generic exhortations to “get tough” are not at all what I expect from people who are supposed to be about Reason and Critical Thinking. Talk about specifics and we can have rational discussions. Making emotional appeals to be macho manly men is better suited to the Creationist crowd.

    • In reply to #32 by Red Dog:

      Everything Faircloth says here is vague. I don’t necessarily disagree with any particular point because there really aren’t any specific points that are tangible enough to disagree with. For example consider this quote from the article:

      “Liberals, seemingly by rote, attack anyone who mentions facts…

      Hello Red Dog. You ask for examples. I can provide you with plenty but I have to be careful about how I go about it as the last post I made providing names of mainstream liberals who partake in this kind of double standard was removed as it was deemed too aggressive; although it wasn’t meant to be. I apologise to the Mods if it seemed too provocative.

      Let me give a two shining examples.

      In 2005 when Ken Livingstone was the Mayor of London one of his staff and a close ideological fellow traveler started a website with another “socialist” called Islamophobia Watch.

      Islamophobia Watch was launched supposedly with the aim of “fighting Islamophobic discourse on the Internet”, whilst Islamophobia Watch did target some far right white racists much of it’s output was/is aimed at fellow liberals, moderate and ex Muslims who dare to criticise Islam or link Islam to violence. So we had a staff member of one of the most high profile elected politicians in the land working on a project aimed at “calling out” (smearing) people who criticise Islam as “islamophobic” (racist)

      More recently highly respected, mainstream liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald who works for The Guardian Tweeted a link to an al-Jazeera article which accused Sam Harris of racism/Islamophobia, agreeing with European fascists, proposing the torture of Muslims and condoning a nuclear first strike on Muslim countries.

      When Sam quite rightfully confronted Glenn, Glenn declared he agreed with the al-Jazeera piece and thought Sam Harris was indeed an Islamophobe who supports racist policies.

      I could go on but I have so much to do today, I hope that helps.

      All the best

    • In reply to #32 by Red Dog:

      Everything Faircloth says here is vague. I don’t necessarily disagree with any particular point because there really aren’t any specific points that are tangible enough to disagree with. For example consider this quote from the article:

      I share your assessment. I want more teeth. However, Faircloth produces material for distribution and perhaps even the New Atheist cannon. I view his writings as specific to those tasks. Let the unvarnished truth be told in the gutter known as the comments section!

  20. Great article. I’m really pleased to see Liberals finally getting it this time, in regard to Islam. Well done.

    You haven’t read the Koran though, have you? Nor the Surah or Hadith?

    If you had read them, you’d have realized already that the only problem with Islam, is Islam.

    In my opinion, there is NO moderate Islam and hence, there is no moderate Muslim.

    For example, is there a moderate Nazi, is their a moderate Nazism? And yes, the ideologies are comparable in my opinion.

    • I do not think that “liberals” will get it anytime soon, and after reading the Qur’an , the Surah and the Hadiths, I find the Nazi analogy most appropriate.
      In reply to #39 by tyga:

      Great article. I’m really pleased to see Liberals finally getting it this time, in regard to Islam. Well done.

      You haven’t read the Koran though, have you? Nor the Surah or Hadith?

      If you had read them, you’d have realized already that the only problem with Islam, is Islam.

      In my opinion, there i…

  21. “Liberals and moderate Muslims must celebrate those in the Islamic world….”

    The trouble with that approach is that the “Islamic world” has no boundaries.

    If/when the day comes that the world is not divided based on some religious belief or another, then you can celebrate. Take the energy out of Islam, take the energy out of Christianity. Relegate them to the same place that you have put the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter.

  22. Thank you for an exellent article. I can’t envisage the day when many muslims, moderate or otherwise will “celebrate those in the Islamic world who stand up for freedom of conscience, specifically including those who disagree with an aspect or all of Islam”, when atheist bloggers are currently imprisoned in Bangladesh whilst islamicist mobs call for their execution and the strengthening of blasphemy laws. Still, we can hope!

    I would say that your recommendations need to be applied not just to the U.S. In Britain muslim women’s rights are being trampled on by Sharia arbitration councils and the government turns a blind eye for the sake of “multiculturalism” and political correctness. In Belgium, a man has recently been jailed for “hate speech” after tearing up a copy of the Koran.

    So we need to call on all governments to “challenge the flagrant violations of human rights in the Islamic world” (and in our western democracies) and also to put pressure on the United Nations Human Rights Council to work towards the abolition of apostasy and blasphemy laws, all of which contravene articles 18 & 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  23. Which is worse, being oppressed by neighbor “A”, or being killed by neighbor “B” ? As an atheist, there are some who hate and fear you ( neighbor “A” ) and a whole organized group that sanction your murder in the name of their god without much fuss, if any, from the other members of that group that may not even agree with your murder (neighbor “B”). Now, project this onto millions of others . Oh, and neighbor “B” is one hell of an oppressor, as well. While both neighbors are detestable, can you see any difference between the two ?

  24. Sean, it was good to hear your talk in Wellington, NZ last month and to have a chance to catch up with you afterward.

    I agree with nearly all of the points you make above. The main problem I have is that you mention US foreign policy so briefly. The Iraq war was indeed bad, but not an aberation. At least as many innocent Iraqis were killed in the Clinton years due to sanctions as during the war, for instance. Saddam’s worst atrocities were committed in the 1980′s when he enjoyed full US support. There’s US support for the Taliban when Clinton thought an oil pipeline would result. We’ve been supporting other oppresive Arab govts for decades. There is our pretense of neutrality in the Israel/Palestine dispute, when in fact we support the Israeli occupation at every meaningful turn. And then there are the drones that kill many innocents and cause terror every time they are used.

    Every Arab and many of the world’s Muslims know this sordid history, even if Americans prefer not to discuss it. I’ve no idea what part if any if played in Boston. What I know is that these people have legitimate grievances that the US not only ignores, but exacerbates daily. In Northern Ireland, peace only came when the UK recognised the legitamate grievances of the Catholics. Likewise, and despite any religious delusions people may hold that make the situation even trickier, we will not find a solution to terrorism directed at the US so long as we deny our role in creating a backlash to our own actions.

    So, your prescription for action is missing a crucial item. Liberals need to look at US actions abroad critically, admit that we continue to act agressively and cause many innocents to be killed, and change US foreign policy when in power, rather than continue to act little better than Bush, like Obama has done. Until you recognize this, you’re just pissing in the wind.

    Regards,
    Ken

    • In reply to #45 by KJS:

      Liberals need to look at US actions abroad critically, admit that we continue to act agressively and cause many innocents to be killed, and change US foreign policy when in power, rather than continue to act little better than Bush, like Obama has done.

      Little better than Bush? Bush invaded Iraq while Obama pulled out of Iraq. That’s much better, not little better.

      And then there are the drones that kill many innocents and cause terror every time they are used.

      Is the US administration supposed to sit an wait while jihadists organize and plot coups, takeovers and terrror attacks? Drones are really a minimum. They’re much better than all-out invasions with ground troops and bombings. If someone has a better idea than drones, I would love to hear it.

      There is our pretense of neutrality in the Israel/Palestine dispute, when in fact we support the Israeli occupation at every meaningful turn.

      Well, I agree with you here. Palestinian Christians are not much happier with the Israeli occupation than the Muslims are. And the occupation breeds tremendous resentment.

      • In reply to #46 by Fouad Boussetta:

        Little better than Bush? Bush invaded Iraq while Obama pulled out of Iraq. That’s much better, not little better.

        It’s very good, yes, but US foreign policy has not changed in any fundamental way otherwise, so it’s just a start.

        Is the US administration supposed to sit an wait while jihadists organize and plot coups, takeovers and terrror attacks? Drones are really a minimum. They’re much better than all-out invasions with ground troops and bombings. If someone has a better idea than drones, I would love to hear it.

        We could do what I suggested above is crucial if we want to have any real affect: stop ingoring legitimate grievances that lead to backlash. As for why drones are such a bad idea, watch Farea al-Muslimi’s testimony to Congress:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PelxKNvl-ds

  25. trouble is how we get these so called fundermenals to change its ok producing all these facts and figures a and such like but were do we drawn the line in protecting our own personal freedons i belive that everyone as thw right to pratice whatever faith or religion we wish as long as it doesnt interfere with anyone elses belies etc but these facts and fugures if so cna be sen to some people as quite frighting not me i know many muslins personaly and they are good and kind people but to people who can read this article and dont know anythimg bout islam per say it can be quite intermading

  26. Sean,

    I think it would be helpful when we talk about ‘religion’ to distinguish clearly between 3 components and to use the plural rather than the singular.

    1. Organisations which identify themselves with a religion. We can quite justifiably hold these to the same standards of other organisations.
    2. Religious belief systems (pl. even for one religion).
    3. Individual believers – whose beliefs,I suspect, rarely coincide with ‘their’ belief system – partly because they are not well educated in it.

    Believers’ sensibilities should be treated with respect (by and large), something one can do whilst still being sceptical about their religion’s theologies (pl.) and organisations.

    It also helps clarify that when ordinary believers talk about their religion they are talking about their personal beliefs and they are rarely answering for the official theologies (pl.) or institutions of their religion.

    IMO this means that believers are often uniquely unqualified to talk about their religions (in the other two senses) and we should be quite blunt about this.

    Finally, I think it would help to eliminates the term ‘religion’ in our language favour or ‘religions’, to talk about a collection rather than what I think is probably a false abstraction. (The abstracted part of religions (pl), the better part – minus the specifics of Jesus, Mohammed, Lord Brahma, pork, beef, circumcision and all the rest – is probably benevolent humanism anyway.)

  27. Personally I don’t understand how anyone can read the Quran believe it to be from a ‘god’ accept its tenets and be a moderate?
    If western civilisation is eventually doomed because of demographics and the religion of Islam is to triumph as an ‘understanding of reality’ does this mean that if Islam develops or inherits a space programme any sentient life forms out there in the rest of the galaxy are eventually doomed to accept and live alongside or actually ‘convert’ to this simultaneously comical and nasty religion and therefore also go under in a form of ‘extended religious natural selection’ ?
    Forgive my flippancy but I refer you to my first question.
    The Cultural Marxists in the Labour Party whose aims were to make Britain an irreversibly Multicultural ‘society’ and who encouraged mass immigration from Islamic sources hadn’t the vaguest understanding of the nature of Islam or multiculturalism and still don’t.
    Islam doesn’t do melting pots or multiculturalism. A read of its ‘holy’ book and a little observation of its history since the seventh century in which it was conceived and of what Islam actually ‘does’ and not what it ‘says it does’ might reveal an understanding of Islam which still defeats the Marxist ideologues who naively encouraged its importation in those heady idealistic times they indulged themselves in.
    And…. I still consider myself a liberal.
    Ultimately, can Islam really be liberal or moderate with all us other liberals and moderates out here in ‘our reality’ which doesn’t have a god or his ‘holy’ book to ‘guide’ us?
    Answers on a Post card to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

  28. In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

    Fascinating. In there any basis for this belief that about 1.7 billion of your fellow humans are psychopaths, or is it just what your gut tells you?

    I cannot agree more. As Sean explains only about 0.5 billion of our fellow humans are psychopaths.

  29. Better late than never I hope.

    Of the many people who direct their criticism of the behaviour of some Muslims at their religion Islam, frustratingly few seem to have the political savvy to specifically target the clerics and others who modulate the sense of grievance to their own political ends.

    Hideous as the texts of the Koran can be, they are not supernatural. The words on the page will not of themselves make the average Joe go out and harm specific others. It is people who are copied. It is clerics in mosques who grant the final license for the great majority.

    If the text (created by a leader whose aim was probably to rally the troops in his desire to conquer the Arab peninsular) is granted this astonishing power even today the key criminal role of the clerics is unreasonably diminished.

    Targeting clerics also has the specific virtue of removing any hint that this is an attack on personal identity. This not only clears the way for reasonable action for us, but it places a credible and tractable onus on average Joe to choose another cleric. Rewriting his wretched holy book is not a doable thing.

  30. @KJS

    In Northern Ireland, peace only came when the UK recognised the legitamate grievances of the Catholics.

    Off topic, but I couldn’t let this simplistic and highly erroneous remark go unchallenged.

    A sort of peace only came about when the majority of terrorists on both sides agreed to put away the guns and bombs and take up democratic processes. In saying that, not all involved have taken this path.

  31. @ KJS…again…

    As for why drones are such a bad idea, watch Farea al-Muslimi’s testimony to Congress:

    Yes, drones are bad, but not a bad idea. Give us a viable alternative that does the job and isn’t a worse idea.

  32. 1) Let us all, Christians and liberals, join together directly, forcefully and publicly condemn the level of acceptance of violence indicated in the polling I cite(indicating the support for the iraq invasion, the use of drones, guantanamo etc) . Ask the question: will priests and other Christian leaders take substantive steps beyond a mere ‘NONEXISTENT’ post-bombing statement (“we condemn the most recent bombings)” To warrant the term “moderate” Christians, particularly community leaders, must, in partnership with liberals, do the following:
    –publicly and vehemently condemn all those who accept any form of violence towards ‘civilian populations’ – not merely condemn the violence itself – condemn those who say it is an acceptable action by others.

    –publicly and vehemently condemn any acceptance of violence in response to the opposition to war and oppression

    –publicly and vehemently condemn any acceptance of violence in furtherance of the political aims of any nation.

    –State with vehemence that the Christian community is failing to meet its moral obligations if 5%(more something like %70) or more of Christians in polling accept violence in the name of national interests or western civilization. Christian leaders who call themselves moderate must publicly condemn those Christians who disagree with meeting this standard.

    Only the Christians who embrace these steps can truly call themselves moderate.

  33. Well, having just watched the footage of the Islamist murder of a soldier in Woolwich in the heart of London, it is clear, from his own admission before he was shot by police, that this man felt more than justified in his barbarous actions. It is also clear that he has been indoctrinated and brain washed by one or more Imams or clerics who have filled him with hatred and misinformation.
    The reactionist in me feels one should somehow fight back against this, but how. The more pragmatic side of me feels that such incidents are hate crimes, are rare, and just as likely to occur against Muslims as non Muslims.
    However, the anti-theist in me feels this is yet another example of how people can use their religion as an excuse for evil and hide behind their God as some form of justification for their actions. Those of us who would say we know there is no God would consider such people as insane. To me, killing someone as though they are acting on the wishes of an imaginary deity are schizophrenic, and should be treated as mentally ill. This then leads to the rather alarming assumption that anyone of any faith who claims to go about their daily business with the guidance of such a deity is also schizophrenic and possibly dangerous or at least in need of treatment and perhaps confinement. Rather a strange possibility.

    • In reply to #62 by Jay_eggman:

      Well, having just watched the footage of the Islamist murder of a soldier in Woolwich in the heart of London, it is clear, from his own admission before he was shot by police, that this man felt more than justified in his barbarous actions. It is also clear that he has been indoctrinated and brain washed by one or more Imams or clerics who have filled him with hatred and misinformation.

      According to Channel 4 News, the motive for this attack seems to have been the British military presence in Arabic countries. That would make this murder a political rather than a religious act, the faith of those responsible notwithstanding.

      This is what one of the men said to camera:

      “I apologise that women had to witness this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”

      And:

      “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. You people will never be safe. The only reason we’ve done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day.”

      • In reply to #63 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #62 by Jayeggman:_

        Well, having just watched the footage of the Islamist murder of a soldier in Woolwich in the heart of London, it is clear, from his own admission before he was shot by police, that this man felt more than justified in his barbarous actions. It is also clear that he ha…
        According to Channel 4 News, the motive for this attack seems to have been the British military presence in Arabic countries. That would make this murder a political rather than a religious act, the faith of those responsible notwithstanding..

        And the “holy” and “infallible” teachings straight from the greatest book in the world evah, could not possibly have contributed any justification for the attack, this is clear as day:

        Koran 4:89: “Take not unbelievers as friends until they fly in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, seize them, kill
        them wherever you find them”

        Koran 8:12: “Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off
        their heads and cut off fingers and toes.”

        Koran 9:5: “Fight and kill the disbelievers”

        • In reply to #66 by godsbuster:

          You had me confused for a second there, godsbuster, by putting part of my comment in bold rather than your own response to me, like you did last time. Consistency is helpful for those of us with reading comprehension issues. ;-)


          I’m not impressed with those who quote text from holy books as evidence of someone’s motives. Without corroborating evidence that the individual was spurred to action by these words, or was even aware of their existence, this is tantamount to mind reading.

          What I wrote yesterday about this crime was based on the little evidence available at the time. Michael Adebolajo, in his direct-to-camera admission, cited the British military presence in Arab countries as the impetus for Lee Rigby’s murder. There was nothing in his statement to suggest any affiliation with Islamist groups. The fact that information has come to light today showing Adebolajo’s links to militant Islam (or Islam, as it’s known on this site) probably means he was familiar with the passages you cite. I was still right at the time, though, and Mr Eggman was wrong to jump to the conclusion he did.


          And the “holy” and “infallible” teachings straight from the greatest book in the world evah, could not possibly have contributed any justification for the attack, this is clear as day…

          I genuinely don’t get this insistence so many here have on blaming the contents of a book for acts supposedly committed in its name. Such thinking seems to be premised on the idea that without the Qur’an’s mystical and malign 1400-year influence over certain parts of the world, all would be sweetness and light in those places.

          Leaving aside the trifling matter of the human animal’s innately violent nature and his propensity for waging war against rival tribes, traits which existed long before anybody heard the names Jesus, Muhammed or Abraham, what really bugs me about this attitude is that it lets people off the hook: no Muslim is ever completely morally responsible for his own actions; there’s always the mitigating factor of religion.

          About one fifth of the population of the world is thus dehumanised: these people aren’t like us, their will isn’t their own; the Arab Spring was never going to work, democracy is anathema to them, they want to be ruled over; evolution? they can’t get their little heads around such a complicated issue, and if some of them try to they can be easily dismissed.

          When Timothy McVeigh was arrested, people didn’t go running to the Bible looking for passages which would explain his actions. The blame for the Irish Troubles which characterised British politics over much of the last century has never been laid entirely at the feet of Christianity.

          When it comes to acts of terror committed by Musselmen, though, as we learned on this thread, socio-political factors and thousands of years of history can take a powder. Why take the trouble to look beneath the surface when all you need to say is “Islam done that. It’s evil is that Koran.”


          P.S. There is, I hope you’ll agree, a world of difference between justification and motivation.

    • In reply to #62 by Jay_eggman:

      Well, having just watched the footage of the Islamist murder of a soldier in Woolwich in the heart of London, it is clear, from his own admission before he was shot by police, that this man felt more than justified in his barbarous actions. It is also clear that he has been indoctrinated and brain w…

      You’re overthinking it friend. A visceral reaction is fine in this case. Consider: A Nigerian immigrant, radical muslim, beheads a British soldier in broad daylight on the streets of London, and shows no fear or remorse. You need to solve the problem at its root and the clean up the mess the insane multiculturalists have made of your country. But to do this, you must first get angry, and you must wake up! What you are seeing in the modern UK is the abject failure of your governing ideologies. You need new ideas, and you need to grow some balls. Sam Harris was right, only the far right is acting sanely on this issue.

  34. Comment after the Woolwich murder of May 22. Prime Minister tries to say that Islam itself is not to blame, and moderate Muslims condemn the attack. However, I think that is not enough. I think the British people should call on all moderate Muslims living in their country to explicitly reject the Jihadist teachings of Islam. I know that if these types of murders started happening in Virginia, I would like to hear that from any Muslims living in my community. Moderate Muslims themselves need to take responsibility, acknowledge, and reject, this part of Islam. This will actually help prevent backlashes.

  35. I think it’s interesting that Sean mentions Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the four or five American citizens known to be assassinated by Barack Obama. Sean failed to mention that although Awlaki was not indicted by any court, he and his son were assassinated by Barack Obama. Awlaki’s crimes seem to be protected by the freedom of speech that Muslims are supposedly so afraid of.

  36. My posts on Islam are often deleted entirely, not just when I call them savages. I will spare the mods and just say I feel like saying something that would be censored on this site. I can totally see why mods censor my thoughts on Islam here, but I don’t blame the mods or even myself. The problem is discussing anything as vile as Islam (a religion that venerates a murderous pedophile as a moral authority of the highest sanction) in candid, unabashed terms is also highly offensive. We are all gagged by our own decency.

    • In reply to #71 by This Is Not A Meme:

      My posts on Islam are often deleted entirely, not just when I call them savages. I will spare the mods and just say I feel like saying something that would be censored on this site. I can totally see why mods censor my thoughts on Islam here, but I don’t blame the mods or even myself. The problem is discussing anything as vile as Islam (a religion that venerates a murderous pedophile as a moral authority of the highest sanction) in candid, unabashed terms is also highly offensive. We are all gagged by our own decency.

      It hasn’t been my experience that members of this site are gagged by decency when discussing their contempt for Islam and its followers. Quite the opposite, in fact: the virulence with which our Musselmen neighbours are spoken about here at our little oasis is sometimes quite shocking to those of us who are not disposed to hate our fellow humans.

      And it is possible to discuss ideologies which one finds morally wanting without contravening the site’s rules and necessitating the removal of one’s comments. My advice – and I’m speaking as someone who has had more posts removed here than most – is to cool your jets and not let your temper get the better of you.

      A book about Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Second World War would not be improved by its author’s anger at the events he’s writing about and contempt for National Socialism coming through on every page, and could result in a reader’s becoming turned off and tossing the book aside in disgust at this fellow’s inability to remain impartial.

      Let the facts speak for themselves. This is Richarddawkins.net after all: your opinions about Islam are shared by the majority of posters here; and the ones who don’t share them and prefer, no doubt foolishly, to place our trust in the basic decency of most people, including Muslims, will never be convinced by hate-filled tirades.

      I hope this has been helpful.

      • In reply to #78 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #71 by This Is Not A Meme:

        I agree. Also, while I have as much disdain for Islam as anyone its pretty ironic that so many people on this site can only see one side of this question. Yes Islam is terrible and trying to run your country by it or any religion is also terrible. But ignoring the other side — the fact that the US has committed countless crimes against Muslim people in the last half century — is as irrational as a creationist.

        There was actually a movement toward secularism in the middle east after WWII. After that war there was an outbreak of nationalism and anti-imperialism all through the world. The US used lots of rhetoric about democracy and the right of people to self determination to encourage occupied people in places like Vietnam, China, and elsewhere to resist their Axis occupiers and join the allies. After the war those people weren’t willing to replace one colonial master (the Germans or Japan) with another (the US or one of its allies).

        In the middle east this was especially prevalent. One of the worst examples of US crimes was in Iran. Iran had a government in the 50′s that the world would welcome with open arms right now if it were possible to get it back. Secular and democratic. Just think about what Iran is like now and think that there was a secular democratic government there and the US and UK governments overthrew it. They did that (and this is why the US supported fundamentalist Islam everywhere in the region) because nationalism meant wanting the local people to have some control of their resources such as oil.

        The CIA overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and installed the Shah, a brutal dictator who routinely practiced torture of political prisoners. Its amazing that people — especially intellectuals like Dawkins — routinely ignore facts like this when they talk about the region.

        Or take the Muslim Brotherhood. What an awful group of nutters right? Where do you think they got their startup cash? The CIA. The CIA sponsored fundamentalist islam all through the region. The rationale was that it was a “defense against godless communism” but Iran and most of these other countries wanted independence, there was a whole movement called the “non aligned movement” of countries like Egypt that explicitly wanted nothing to do with either side of the cold war. It wasn’t really to stop communism that the CIA installed the Shah and helped the Muslim Brotherhood. It was to stop nationalism and the local control of resources that went with it.

        And now without a trace of irony people in the west wring their hands over those ignorant savages in the middle east who can’t seem to separate Islam from their government. Ignoring that it was the US who shaped the region to be that way in the first place.

        This is all documented in a great book called Devil’s Game: How the US Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam by Robert Dreyfus

  37. It comes down to maths and basic psychology. 1 billion Muslims and ….

    Approx 15% of any given population will have psychopathic tendencies which are more likely to be expressed if the childhood environment is one of callousness, intolerance, violence, stress and absence of compassion and equality.

    Combine this with psychological studies on authority (Milgrim), where the majority of moderate individuals given the ‘right’ environment will subjugate themselves to authority and commit horrendous crimes against the innocent and you have the basics of the problem with Islam.

    The faster the world can evolve into a science based moral code and judicial system the better.

    As mentioned by numerous other posters, liberalism is a pick and choose religion with no backbone and its head stuck firmly in the ground of fear.

  38. As a self-identified progressive and liberal American, it is fairly easy for me to see why so many of my compatriots in the West are very uncomfortable condemning the very real problems of Islam, and the radical and violent views of a significant percentage of Muslims:

    1. Muslims are a minority. Liberals think of minorities as victims, not perpetrators. Some liberals would argue that, for example, African Americans are incapable of being racists, since they do not wield sufficient power to oppress other groups. Many liberals would extend that reasoning to other minority groups, including Muslims.

    2. Muslims of course can be of any race, but most of them are not of European descent. Liberals are repelled by any negative characterization of any group, particularly any group that is primarily non-European.

    3. Liberals believe in multiculturalism and diversity. Muslims increase the diversity of the US and Europe, and therefore are inherently a positive addition to society. Any implication to the contrary must be condemned out of hand, and is generally assumed to be implicitly, if not explicitly, racist and bigoted.

    4. Liberals who personally know Muslims generally (I would assume) have had very positive experiences with them, and naturally rely on that anecdotal experience in forming their opinion. My anecdotal experience is that Muslims tend to work in professions like IT or healthcare professions, and it seems like many other liberals would have similar experiences. Radical Muslims–Islamists–tend to self-segregate, or to self-censor themselves in the presence of non-believers, so liberals tend to think of them as a tiny minority that makes the news since they’re so exceptional, rather than representing a significant percentage of all Muslims.

    5. Americans of all political stripes are strongly conditioned to defer to individual religious beliefs. Anything that smacks of condemning a particular religion is seen as the same stuff as anti-Semitism, which of course is associated with the most evil regime in history, Nazi Germany. Liberals see all religious intolerance as the province of right wingers–only Evangelical or Catholic extremists would dare suggest that someone else’s faith is in any way flawed, so liberals reflexively take the opposite tack and say things like “I’m tolerant of everything but intolerance.” The intolerance they have in mind is that of right-wing Christians–intolerant Muslims are mostly given a pass, due to reasons enumerated above.

    • In reply to #75 by functional atheist:

      I don’t really think that any liberal is giving a pass to Muslims. I think it is just that liberals just don’t think that it is useful to focus on collectively condemming Muslims as rightwing groups tend to do. The later do so mostly to steer up negative emotions(fear/anger/hate),divert attention and use these as a support for repressive policies and/or military interventions. There are many examples for this including some that you mentioned. Most liberals rightly don’t want to be a part of it. Moreover liberals tend not to automatically exempt their own countries/parties/cultures/beliefs from the criticism that they apply to others. Therefore sometimes this leads to people like S.Faircloth to condem them for not ‘condemming Muslims’ enough (you know five times a day is the norm) since they also do have more useful/meaninful things to do…

  39. I think Sean Faircloth is like most Americans and doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘liberal’. I get infuriated when people use it as an insult when what they are really talking about are those PC twits who stifle free speech and tell us that we mustn’t ‘offend’ certain groups of especially sensitive people. They are not liberals. Liberals are for freedom of speech. I’m a liberal and I have no time for Islam, or any other religion, and there is nothing PC about me. Pat Condell has a very good video on this topic, called ‘The Truth is Incorrect’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwK7VRkbGiU

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use]

  40. steveo00: “For instance, in the matter of muslims, I believe that behind closed doors every single one of them secretly cheers every time an American is bombed or killed, regardless of their public outrage, of which there is very little-outrage that is. “

    This is not true. Death or torture of innocent people, regardless nation, religion etc., for reasons resulting from any reason (disasters, hatred, or anthing else) creates trauma on people.

  41. I am a liberal, very far Left in some ways, and I am very concerned about the rise of Islamism. However, understanding this is a real threat to the West was a process that awhile.

    Part of the problem initially, was a lack of perspective. I was 21 when 9/11 happened, and though there had been a small terrorist act or two in my lifespan, At that point it seemed like these terrorists were fringe lunatics and representative of a larger pattern. The last few years I have seen how yes, there is a pattern he so large it cannot be ignored.
    Another problem, was that the people advocating for me to beware the Islamism, were fringe right wing Christians talking about Revelation and the fulfillment of prophesies, etc. and often relied on outright racism/tribalism or religion scare tactics.

    I think part of the problem is that the people alerting me to the danger were people who I thought of as irrational lunatics themselves. And they were people who had persecuted me. So it’s a bit of the enemy of my enemy etc.
    but for me was more like, ok my lunatic older brother who abuses me is now attacking this foreign guy over here, so that foreign guy probably doesn’t deserve it any more than I do, I mean I know my big bro is an abusive lunatic who is only kept in check due to the constitution and Supreme Court. We’ll, turns out maybe that foreign guy he is punching really is a terrorist in this case. But I still can’t trust my big brother, who I was personally abused by.
    That’s a big part of it too. With fundamentalists Christians, it’s deeply personal. They have tortured me personally psychologically for years. I was institutionalized as teen for being different, beaten, locked in solitary, degraded, put in restraints, molested, from the age of 12. I was made to feel like I was unlovable to god because of who I was. I will need therapy for probably the rest of my life. They have specifically abused me as a person, as a child, in my own life history. They prevent young people, particularly LGBTQ, from finding God, which is a desperate persons last solace. Many, many people in the liberal coalition of groups, have deep psychological trauma and wounds due to the words and deeds of fundamentalist right wing Christians.

    So They seemed like a much more immediate threat to me. Getting bombed by a jihadist at rush hour seemed horrible to me, but also impersonal and random, and not much different than the random militia right wing nuts who are actually committing more terrorist acts in the US, mostly shootings, than jihadists appear to be.
    And I know extreme Islamism would physically torture women and gays and apostates, but they have no power to do that in US. it’s horrible, but therE are lots of horrible dictators the world over who do that. So Islamism didn’t seem special to me in this sense.
    Where they start to concern me, is yes, when you see it’s not just a tiny extreme group, jihadists are taking over a large swathe of the world and wish to establish a caliphate, and then I had to do some research on my own, both catching up on world news, which I normally didn’t follow closely, but also history, particularly the crusades and world war 1. And the immigration to western countries etc, a large minority of Muslims openly saying stuff like they want to take the west down from inside etc.
    so I am very concerned about Islam now, more for Europe than US as Europe is surrounded by islam on two sides geographically.
    West and Islam have been turf warRing for over a thousand years. And I do think that western civilization is important, and special, and worth protecting. And even the fundie Christians are better, quite frankly, than sharia law. Except that guy running for Congress in Oklahoma who said he thought Americans should have the right to stone gay people to death. Scary.

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