Figuring Out the Meaning of Life and Other Trivial Matters
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The War on Muslims
SKEPTIC: It's election season in America, so of course it's time for the GOP to drag out a new boogieman to scare up some votes. This season it appears to be the Muslims' turn to play the villain - which of course doesn't mean that Republicans won't find time to scare white folks about blacks, gays, immigrants, atheists, or those damn socialist-communist-fascist-liberals as well.
PREACHER: Predictions are that liberals are going to lose big in the next election. The reasons are not the scare tactics of the GOP so much as a lot of good folks are just tired of the incompetence of secular liberalism. Secularists have the audacity to claim that theirs is a neutral position in the competition between worldviews. However, theirs is only another worldview among several that are vying for the allegiance of the population. Right now secularists are twisting themselves in knots to not be Islamophobic, and in so doing become Christophobic.
SKEPTIC: The latest non-story from the right has to do with the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" - a perfectly accurate description of the proposed project, except for the "ground zero" and the "mosque" parts. An "Islamic Community Center located near ground zero" is what we're talking about - and it's the latest evidence of a particularly virulent strain of Islamophobia that seems to be sweeping the nation. Opponents are trying to close down the project before it ever gets off the ground.
PREACHER: I would not deny the Muslims in this nation the right to build a place of worship. However, building it so close to 9/11 ground zero isn't a very good idea. To build a mosque right near the place where Muslim extremists committed one of the worst hate crimes in recent history is bound to incite bad feelings from the rest of the population. For the sake of tolerance it was a really foolish thing to do. To not offend is a responsibility that Muslims, gays, liberals, and blacks, need to take seriously, too. I would never want to say that they are less capable of that responsibility than the rest of us.
SKEPTIC: So I guess religious freedom in America doesn't apply to Muslims - is that the deal? Sure, they're free to build their little mosques - as long as the location doesn't offend anybody. Is that how it works? By taking the position that it's offensive to build this community center a couple of blocks from ground zero, you're implying that the entire Islamic religion was responsible for 9/11. FOX News has even proclaimed that the project is going to be a "Terrorist Command Center!" But hey, let me know if al Qaeda wants to put up a building in New York City and I'll jump aboard the bandwagon to shut it down.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Islamophobia is breaking out all over. Proposed mosques in other parts of the US are also being opposed by people who truly believe that all Muslims are terrorists - and that our president is some sort of "secret Muslim" out to destroy the country from within.
PREACHER: Statistics clearly show that 1 in 5 Americans think that Mr. Obama is a Muslim. A lot more are just not sure what he really is, even though he claims to be a Christian.
SKEPTIC: There is a hardcore 20% of Americans who, shall we say, are not all that bright (I'm trying to be polite). They're the same 20% that clung to the idea that George Bush was a great president until the day he got booted out of the White House. They probably also believe that the earth is flat and the moon is made of green cheese.
PREACHER: You were trying real hard to be polite, weren't you! That hardcore 20% would probably have a few things to say about your level of intelligence, too. Better to be not so bright and have a few facts not straight, than have your great intellect entangled in inexcusable foolishness.
But in regard to Mr. Obama, hasn't he gone out of his way to reach out to Muslims and Muslim nations? In a speech, didn't he basically give a government endorsement of the mosque at ground zero? Wasn't that an infringement on the principle of "separation of church and state?" Or does that rule only apply to Christian churches?
SKEPTIC: Yes, Obama has "gone out of his way to reach out to Muslims and Muslim nations." It's called "getting along with the rest of the world." Apparently conservatives don't like that concept - they'd rather be at war with the rest of the world. In fact, I think another war between Christians and Muslims is just what many Christians are itching to see happen. And he didn't endorse the project per se - he endorsed the idea of religious freedom and non-discrimination in America, which by the way, has nothing to do with the separation of church and state. But you seem to be dancing around what you really think. Are you saying that these things are evidence that Obama is - or might secretly be - a Muslim?
PREACHER: I would commend Obama on his efforts to get along with the rest of the world. However, so far, his gestures of good will towards Islamic nations such as Turkey and Iran have not been taken very seriously. The problem is that secularists (and Mr. Obama) fantasize about a world where humans get rid of their differences and live together harmoniously all on their own. Such a world has never existed, doesn't exist now, and never will. Now, Christians and Moslems believe that God (Allah) will someday intervene and bring in an age of peace, but secularists have no such hope.
SKEPTIC: Well, I'll tell you what - secularists would have a lot more hope for an age of peace if the world's religions didn't insist on having perpetual wars. But I really don't understand how you can take a position against religious freedom in America. If you deny it to Muslims, Christians may be the next group to be discriminated against.
PREACHER: This isn't a question of religious freedom, but of tactics used by opposing worldviews. I believe that Mr. Obama is trying to be religiously neutral. Though he tries, he really cannot be neutral. I see him vacillating back and forth. Both Christianity and Islam are evangelistic faiths. They want to increase their followers. By their very nature they bump into each other. Secularism is just another worldview that is vying for influence.
So the question is not about religious freedom, but is "which one of these opposing worldviews do we want to have as the dominant worldview in our society?" That choice is made by the people and not the government or some self-appointed elite. I don't want Islam to be the dominant worldview in our society. Where it is dominant, freedom of religion and speech don't exist. Punishment for crimes are extremely harsh. Women are treated like animals and you should be concerned that there is no tolerance of sexual deviation. (Just think! The free sex lifestyle you as a secularist love would have to be terminated.) I don't want secularism to be the dominant worldview either. It has no moral authority, and therefore has no basis for calling anything right or wrong. It is a recipe for moral and legal chaos. I think I will stick with Christianity, thank you. Christianity is broad enough that it doesn't force its views on others. And I think that the majority of the population in America would agree with me.
SKEPTIC: Okay, I get it now. You don't want Islam or secularists to be the "dominant worldview in our society." So I guess the way to do that is to shut them down and deny them their rights at every opportunity. Apparently, for Christians, religious freedom is a swell concept, as long as we're talking about Christians being on the receiving end of it. Everybody else is clearly out of luck. And for the record, my "free sex lifestyle" has ended. I'm strictly pay-as-you-go now.
PREACHER: You should realize that historically, societies where Islam or secularism have been the starting base and the dominant worldview, religious freedom doesn't exist.
SKEPTIC: Clearly what's happening in America is that the War on Terror is rapidly morphing into a War on Muslims. It's a vicious and dangerous turn of events, and plays right into the hands of the terrorists, who can go out and proclaim to their potential recruits, "You see, Americans really do hate all Muslims. You must join us in our cause!"
One very clear indication of this morphing is the incident in New York City recently when a taxi driver was stabbed after telling the attacker, a young man named Michael Enright, that he was Muslim. Anti-Muslim violence and attitudes are escalating at a dangerous rate.
PREACHER: Michael Enright is not your typical fundamentalist conservative that would be incited to violence from the Islamophobic influences that he got at his church or from the conservative media. He was a sophisticated honors college student, well-studied in post-modernism, that did volunteer work in Afghanistan with Intersections International, an organization committed to breaking down walls of fear and prejudice. His actions seem quite definitely out of character from what you would expect.
Why did he do what he did even after being involved in an organization that stands for peace and tolerance? Could it be that during his time in Afghanistan, working alongside the US military, that he developed a deep hatred for Muslims as he saw the carnage there? Add to that the fact that he was apparantly intoxicated when he committed the crime. Wasn't he just living out his version of the moral relativism that he had been taught in secular schools? Do whatever comes naturally and label it OK after the event (except this was definitely not OK). Isn't he just an example of moral relativism gone amuck?
SKEPTIC: No, he's an example of anti-Muslim hysteria gone amuck. You know, I thought we were fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq to help Muslims to have a better life. How are we supposed to win hearts and minds in those countries when they see the blatant anti-Muslim feelings on display by a large segment of the American people?
PREACHER: Then the Muslims certainly have their public relations work cut out for them. Why aren't they demonstrating to us how nice they are? Why aren't the Mullahs preaching peace in the mosques instead of incitement? Why is the whole country of Saudi Arabia off limits for Christian mission work? Why don't oil rich Moslem countries take care of their own people better? It is traditionally Christian countries (United States, Canada, ...) not Moslem countries that are sending most of the aid to the victims of floods in Pakistan. Like that poor taxi driver there are many Muslims who are decent people who want to get along with Christians and Jews. However, the message that I get from their world- renowned religious leaders is the United States is the big Satan and Israel is the little Satan. And Allah commands that both be converted to Islam or destroyed.
I also find it very intriguing that so many secularists are making such a big fuss over trying not to be Islamophobic. Why not also be careful about not being Christophobic. Become a bridge between the two religious groups instead of criticizing what you don't understand.
SKEPTIC: Well, I'll tell you what. You Christians go ahead and fight it out with all those other religions that you hate so much. We secularists will watch from the bleachers and pick up the pieces when you all are done - if there's anything left to pick up.