Saturday, September 01, 2007

Islam Bashing

I find the Islam bashing -- both around the intertubes and in traditional media -- increasingly irritating. The Christians who partake in this are generally hypocrites of the worst kind (I saw a video today in the last minute of which Sean Hannity demonstrates Godwin's law with a level of hypocrisy that demonstrate's Poe's law), but it's atheist Islam-bashers who really annoy me. Don't get me wrong, most of what they say about Islam is true of Islam, but it's also true of Christianity, and aiming your rebuke at the religion that is primarily practiced half a world away instead of the one that's most likely practiced by your next-door neighbor, or even others in your own home, smacks of xenophobia.

Let me say this very clearly, Islam is no worse than Christianity.

It may be true that proactively violent fanaticism is more common among Muslims than Christians today, but an honest look at the religious beliefs of the members of the US military would surely call even that into question. The real difference between the two is that there are currently no serious Christian theocracies. Vatican City may technically be a sovereign state, and the vestigial monarch of the UK may also have some ceremonial authority in the Anglican church, but there is no Christian state where a predominantly lay population is held to Levitical law or any other possible analog of sharia. Ironically, some of the most vocal critics of Islam would love to see the United States become just such an oppressive theocracy.

Here in the United States, Christianity is a far greater threat to our rights than Islam. Patrick Henry once famously said "Give me liberty, or give me death." Some Islamic extremists may want to give us death, but their Christian counterparts want us to have neither. More importantly, the Christians are in a better position to attain their goals on a national scale. There is also far more military and economic power among so called "Christian nations" than in the Islamic world. Conditions seem to be different in the UK and possibly elsewhere, but in the US, the threat of the intolerance and batshit-insane ideas of Islam doesn't compare to the threat of the intolerance and batshit-insane ideas of Christianity.

Criticism from within always bears more weight than criticism from afar. We have plenty of Christians and Muslims complaining, often hypocritically, about one another. We need more Christians and Muslims speaking out against more extreme versions of their own faiths, and atheists speaking out against religions with which they have to live, and of which they may have been members. This is one area in which mormonism is a good example for the rest of us, and I would like to take a moment to congratulate and to thank all the former mormons who have spoken out against the LDS church.

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