Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’


One of the most depressing aspects of what passes for modern political discourse is the tendency on both the left and right to engage in collective guilt tripping. You hear this crap constantly: it’s all the fault of the boomers, men, millennials, women, feminists, blacks, whites, godless atheists (a bit redundant there, eh?), immigrants, Muslims, latinos, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam. (Perhaps even more depressing is the guilt and self-loathing of white liberals who buy into this shit.)

There are several problems with the overly broad assignment of guilt (for damn near anything and everything you can think of). The first is that it’s lazy. It’s a ridiculously easy “analysis.”

The second is that it allows the demonizer to feel superior to the broad class of demonized (whites, blacks, latinos, men, “feminazis,” gay people, Jewish folks, whoever) simply because the demonizer is not a member of the demonized per se evil class. (Never mind what s/he is doing with their own life, never mind that they’re often a pathetic piece of human waste — they’re not a member of the cursed class, so they’re automatically virtuous; at present, this form of mental sickness is most pronounced in the outbreak of white supremacism and its related misogyny/homophobia.)

The third is that collective guilt lets those guilty of real evil off the hook. For instance, if you assign all Germans (including those not even born yet when it occurred) guilt for the Holocaust, it lessens if not eliminates the individual guilt of the murderers. This equal-opportunity guilt/blame places those who fought against and fled the Nazis on the same moral footing as those who perpetrated the horrors. But, gosh, isn’t it convenient to assign the guilt simply to “the Germans”? So easy. (The same of course applies to whites as regards the treatment of black people and Native Americans, and men vis a vis the suppression of women: the one-size-fits-all blame-game lets those guilty of real evil off the hook.)

The fourth is that it sets people against each other. As an example, I’ve spent my entire adult life working to eliminate racism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, religious authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia — all the forms of coercive domination/submission — and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to feel guilty for being a straight white male (things over which I have no control). While I share a lot of the goals of the blame-culture PC left, they’ve made themselves into my — and humanity’s — enemies, unwitting dupes of the powers-that-be in their divide-and-conquer game, in their blaming of me and countless others for things utterly beyond our control.

If we’re ever going to make real progress, we can’t do it by eating each other alive. Improvements in such things as wealth and income distribution must benefit damn near everyone; if for only certain classes of people, that’ll further divide us.

The fifth, and perhaps most major, problem is that the simplistic assignment of guilt based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., is that it short circuits critical analysis. There are complicated reasons for almost every major problem. Assigning guilt to classes of people allows those (often unwittingly) serving the powers-that-be to avoid looking at the underlying societal/economic mechanisms that produce the various horrors (mass unemployment, environmental despoliation, restriction of reproductive rights, climate catastrophe, etc.). In other words, mass guilt provides convenient scapegoats. If you don’t look at the underlying mechanisms, and then do something to fix or replace them, you’ll never get anywhere: you’ll just arrive at an endless miasma of guilt, blame, and hate while those on top stay on top.

The sixth and most obvious problem is that assignment of collective guilt leads to atrocities. Such things as the Holocaust (for imaginary offenses), internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps (again, for imaginary offenses), the Israeli government’s bulldozing of the homes of thousands of suspected Palestinian militants (thus punishing their entire families), and the caging of immigrant children (yet again for imaginary offenses).

The next time you hear someone say it’s all the fault of the Jews, the whites, immigrants, men, blacks, women, gays, Muslims, etc., etc., please realize that that person is a bullshit artist. Someone trying to distract you with scapegoats. Someone who wants to let those actually guilty off the hook. Someone who doesn’t want you to look at the underlying problems. Someone who’s however unwittingly a servant of the powers that be.


Anyone who reads this blog should be well aware that I have no great love for Islam — nor for any other religion — and I consider Islam a graver threat to human freedom than the other major religions combined.

Islam itself is bad enough, but the current administration is poking an Islamic hornets’ nest with a stick.

Its approach to Islamic peoples in the Middle East is extremely dangerous, as Donald Trump seems to be doing everything he can, via foreign policy, to encourage violence by radical Islamists, and seems to be doing everything he can to drive the young, impressionable, and desperate into the arms of violent extremists.

Trump is siding with the worst, most repressive regimes in the Middle East, most importantly Islamic extremist Saudi Arabia, but also the brutal military regime in Egypt, and the extreme right in Israel, which is turning Israel/Palestine into an apartheid state.

None of this plays well with the oppressed in those lands, nor with those in other countries who care about the oppression of their brothers and sisters.

Trump’s (and Obama’s, and Bush the Lesser’s, and Clinton’s, and their predecessors’) interventionist policies in the Middle East have created a situation that’s a festering sore, and that will remain one until the U.S. stops supporting oppression.

Just getting the hell out of the Middle East entirely would be a huge improvement on past and current U.S. policy. Even better, the U.S. could begin supporting democratic, secular elements in the region — shockingly enough, this is now happening in one very limited instance, with the Kurds fighting ISIS — and spending money on development aid.

But this is pure fantasy. I’d be more than happy with simple U.S. military withdrawal from the Middle East and the end of U.S. military and financial support for repressive regimes there. That alone would do more than all the bombs ever dropped to end Islamic radicalism.

To make matters worse, Trump also seems to be doing everything he can, via domestic policy, to promote radical Islam and violence by radical Islamists. While he supports repressive Islamist regimes abroad (our Saudi “allies” et al.), he’s targeting powerless, desperate refugees at home, and his hateful rhetoric inspires violence against them.

Again, this drives impressionable, angry Muslim teenagers and young adults into the arms of ISIS and other Islamic death cults.

It also isolates the Muslim community, producing an us-versus-them mentality. This is what Trump, his goose-stepping alt-right supporters, ISIS, and Al Qaeda want, but it is not what the rest of us should want.

Tolerance and communication will reduce Islamic extremism, isolation won’t.

If you want to fight Islamic extremism, don’t harass Muslims. It might make you feel better to harass them, but it’s cowardly and it’ll ultimately backfire. Leave them alone. If you want to drive them into the arms of the fundamentalists and the terrorists, you won’t find a better way to do it than to harass them on the street.

Think about it. How would you react to being harassed (or worse, physically attacked) simply because of your appearance? Your perceived religious beliefs? Would you be more sympathetic to your attackers or to those who present themselves as fighting your attackers?

How would you feel if someone attacked your family because of their appearance or perceived beliefs?

Harassment and physical attacks increase the isolation and fear level of Muslims in the U.S. — precisely the conditions under which extremism flourishes.

If we believe in religious freedom, let’s act like it. Treat people with respect no matter who they are or what their perceived beliefs.

And let’s exercise our freedom of speech. Islam (and Christianity and religious Judaism and Hinduism for that matter) cannot stand up to scrutiny and ridicule.

Give that to them in spades, subject those religions — but not their individual adherents — to scrutiny and ridicule at every opportunity. The best antidote to Islamic and Christian authoritarianism is freedom of speech and freedom of belief.

Our ideas are better than theirs. Let’s start acting like we believe it. Let them express their noxious beliefs: they won’t stand up to scrutiny.

Let’s start acting like we have respect for human rights and individual human beings.

And let’s start acting like we’re serious about defeating Islamic fundamentalism, and stop harassing Muslims.

 


McCARTHYISM, n. 1. The hurling of baseless, slanderous charges at political opponents, be they groups or individuals; 2. A common means of leveling such charges through the deliberate conflation of two unrelated things, such as anti-Semitism and criticism of the state of Israel, or racism and criticism of Islam or Muslims (who come in all colors).

How these distinct things are identical is never explained, though one suspects transubstantiation or a particularly perverse form of syllogistic reasoning. To wit:

Most Islamic believers are black or brown.
So, criticism of Islam (a religion) is an attack on black and brown people.
Therefore those who criticize Islam are racist.

Or

Most Israeli citizens are Jewish.
So, criticism of Israel (a political entity) is an attack on Jewish people.
Therefore those who criticize Israel are anti-Semitic..

One could just as well argue the following:

Most American child molesters are white.
So, criticism of child molesters is an attack on white people.
Therefore those who criticize child molesters are racists.

And there you have it. What passes for political discussion in the land of the free.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

 

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover