Thursday, September 28, 2006
I AM NOT EVIL
(And Neither are most Muslims)
There is a blogostorm brewing, and I wanted to contribute some thoughts on this subject.
In a nutshell, there is a demand for introspection being made on Conservative bloggers and pundits on how Muslims are considered and discussed in print and on the Internet. In fact, my humble blog began by as a chronicle of the experience I shared with a respected, humanist Muslim (Ali Eteraz) when he briefly posted on Ann Coulter Official Chat (where I am the site Librarian).
I strongly feel that too many on the right side of the world have little knowledge of the complexities of Islam, and make rude, demeaning, and ignorant claims about Muslims and Islamic faith in posts and dialogs. As a student of Ancient Egypt, and having some knowledge of this history of the Levant (gleaned from more than reading the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam), I have more experience than many. I had hoped Ali could expand upon my teachings on that site, but circumstances were such that he could not. I continue my attempt to inform and educate there nonetheless.
Here is the sweet irony of the situation: Republicans/Conservatives have much in common with Humanist Musims. We are two groups of people classified as "EVIL" by much of the world.
In fact, Republicans and Conservatives (I recognize that the two are not necessarily the same) should be the most circumspect when discussing Muslims. We are both classified as evil.
Let's consider we Republicans. The elite media and elitist liberal types have labeled us as racist, bigoted, homophobes who wish to enslave minorities. Personally, I have had two interesting experiences related to becoming a Republican in 1993 (just after I realized I had been duped by Clinton by believing his lie regarding the Middle Class Income Tax Cut -- my taxes went up). I would like to share these stories:
* I was part of a play group about two years ago. I mentioned that I was Republican. One mother said..."but you seem so nice". I coughed and asked if she were a Democrat. She replied "yes". Then I responded "but you seem too smart". Once she realized I did freelance work for a Fox News affiliate, she basically ignored me.
* I was having dinner with a girlfriend who is also a colleague in the environmental business, where I make most of my greedy capitalist earnings. We began discussing the Bush-Gore election issues (this was Dec. 2000, fresh from the election being decided). She was hesitant to review the current events, as she assumed a female environmentalist such as myself had to be a liberal (she thought she was the only Conservative in our field). She had many uncomfortable experiences trying to rationally discuss politics with any woman. Happily, we found we had a similar political viewpoint and have been great friends since.
I tire of trying to defend myself against charges of prejudice and greed by people who read toxic materials, such as Evil GOP Bastards and Democratic Underground , and think they know what I stand for based on their limited knowledge. In fact, classification of Republicans as mean-spirited bigots is so prevelant and widespread, a full page ad was placed by a member of our party on the Washington Post, which read:
You're a Republican???
(Wednesday, October 20th 2004): In today's America, ask a growing number of high school and college students; their teachers and professors; the self-anointed media elite and/or hard working men and women of all ethnicities, the question, "What is a Republican?", and you'll be told "a rich, greedy, egotistical individual, motivated only by money and the desire to accumulate more and more of it, at the expense of the environment , the working poor, and all whom they exploit..
I am a Republican. I am none of those things and I don't know any Republicans who are. WHAT I AM first and foremost, is a loving husband of some 52 plus years, the father of four and an American who's proud of his country and his country's heritage.
I find humanist Muslims, who wish to celebrate the peaceful and wholesome aspects of Islam, support the separation of Chuch and State (just like we Republicans/Conservatives), and denounce the militancy of the Islamic extremists have similar experiences. For example, my 4-year-old son was at the condo pool this summer and started playing with a 5-year-old beauty of Persian heritage. The parents are obviously from Iran. When the mother introduced herself to me, I could tell she was not comfortable. She has had issues with people making assumptions as to how she practices Islam (e.g. cold stares). She was delighted to discover that I knew something about the history and culture of Persia/Iran, as well as its geography (i.e., Tehran is the Capital, Farsi is the main language). She was really impressed when I mentioned Isfahan!! She then relaxed with and was forthcoming about the family's coming to the United States. My son and I were even invited to a tasty Persian dinner. I made a new friend that day because I showed friendship.
I wish to be fair. My focus on the Internet is on Conservative news and opinion (as well as Egyptology). I do not know how Democrats/Liberals actually discuss Muslims. I do know, however, that many bloggers and posters on the "Rightosphere" are very comfortable espousing hatred toward an entire group of people. Today, one member of ACOC actually entitled a post "I've crossed that line... Islam must be destroyed". Replace the word "Islam" with the acronym "GOP" and it has the same tenor we Conservatives revile on extreme liberal websites.
I have spent many hours explaining Ann Coulter's infamous statement in her column, This is War. In full context, it reads:
We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now.
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
I sincerely think Ann was distinguishing between terror-loving extremists from peaceful Muslims who are Americans and American allies. Damn, many of them are Americans in the US Armed Forces! However, her words (and the words of other Conservative pundits) are used to bash all Muslims -- anywhere at anytime. It is hard for me to demonstrate that Ann Coulter, one of my writing icons, is NOT prejudiced when there are regular posts calling for the destruction of Mecca on her chat room. It is time for these Conservative icons to take a stand and specifically distinguish between the terror-mongers and Muslims who are worthy of respect.
I think this is a sound time for some serious introspection for us Righties. Often, Conservatives state that we value and reason over irrationality (especially after liberal rants such as this). We have much in common with humanist Muslims. It is time to support these Muslims.
Update: A review of Michelle Malkin's response to Dean Esmay's assertions is intriguing. The depth and focus of her blogging about Esmay indicates to me that Dean's comments may have hit something. Her belittling of Dean (who is no uberliberal), her repititous cutting/pasting of Dean's invectives to a troll on his blog (meant to lessen Dean's credibility), and her pointing to an insulting reference on littlegreenfootballs is rather rabid if Dean's comment didn't have a grain of truth somewhere.
I liken it to my experience on Ann Coulter Official Chat. Another (albeit liberal) member accused me of being anti-Muslim. I was truly upset and defensive in my response. But upon serious reflection, that member was correct. I had failed to clearly distquish between Islamic terrorists and "moderate" Muslims in my posts. I changed my approach and did some homework, and now I am sometimes referred to as a "deluded Muslim apologist" on the chat room.
If Ms. Malkin didn't sense that her posts have promoted irrational anti-Muslim sentiment, then she wouldn't have bother being so vindictive in her own blog. If there were NO truth to Dean's assertions whatsoever, then if Michelle had mentioned Dean's blog at all, it would have been to simply state she disagreed, with a few examples to demonstrate her point. However, the level of vitriol and agressive posture leads me to believe that Dean's comment hit a mark and perhaps Michelle should take the opportunity to some soul searching. It could only enhance usually remarkable work. That way, perhaps some of her readers would reconsider before posting toxic anti-Islamic screed, such as this: Perhaps the idiots on the left will wake up when the islamo-goons begin killing their family members. I can only hope this Malkin reader doesn't equate 4000 Muslim soldiers with Osama Bin Laden.
I wonder if Michelle Malkin's site could pass the "moderate Muslim" test. That is, could a peace-promoting, Constitution-respecting, Islam-reforming Muslim American feel comfortable posting on her blog and get rational comments and respectful questions? If so, then perhaps Dean was wrong. But I sense a moderate Muslim there would be as welcome as one on ACOC.
(Link to someone whose view corresponds to my own on this matter: http://nospeedbumps.com/?p=1045).
To be seen to do so, and be seen to denounce, and ostracize those whose strategy and purpose is to kill the innocents who happen to be in Dar el Harb ..those who do will find the strongest support imaginable and not from just the 'evildoing neo cons' and zionist crusaders.
Other peace-oriented Muslim groups include Free Muslims Coalition against Terror (http://www.freemuslims.org/). When I went in quest of Muslims denoucing terror, it took me some time to locate these sites. Not because they don't exist, but because I came across tons of hateful anti-Muslim screed.
Why the outcry hasn't yet come to fruition seems to be due to fear of reprisals, tribal/sectarian differences which would preclude such a stance, or a plenitude of other possibilities.
This, and the Islamist's seeming control of Muslim airspace for theiur propaganda, does not bode well for those of us who desire a meaningful dialogue with the Muslim-on-the-street.
Brian, I see that your from New York. I understand the rage that you must have felt after 9/11 and I'm guessing that rage is the reason you're so blind.
You've been reading too many anti-Islam and Islamophobic materials now haven't you?
You insult our Holy Koran without even having an open mind to think critically. Yes there are many seemingly violent verses there but you MUST interpret them within their historical context.
You need an intensive class. Gee does it matter anyway? I have a feeling you made up ur mind. Enjoy drowning in ur own hate.
If you want to learn about Islam, the best thing is to learn it from true Muslims themselves.