I slam Islam

4.0.04

A liberal questioning the liberal dogma (not to mention the conservative one)

This text was written by author cherishing liberal society, as much as the right for individual's self-alignment with his/hers natural predispositions, the right for expressing ones identity, the right for choosing ones lifestyle, author concerned about minorities struggling with prejudices (being a member of couple of minorities myself). Especially I do value the right for scrutinizing any subject of interest and importance from multiple perspectives, even the unpopular ones, without it meaning taking sides or accepting labels. My rede is "do what you want, if it concerns yourself and does not harm the others". I do not worship multiculturalism, I like the idea of multiculturalism, to certain extent, I'd like to ensure its survival, I attempt to preserve the better of it. I did study Islamic mythology, history, culture much more than average citizen, equally emphasizing its unique beauties as much as its unique issues. Please do not judge this article by first impression, nor by penultimate paragraph. Please do not get infuriated by words, sentences or chapters - rather try to grasp the message of the whole complex work. As odd as this preamble reads, as odd the authors feels about feeling obliged to write it, nowadays.

It looks like another macho football match. Multiculturalist and nationalists zealously fight each other, almost oblivious of the human subjects of their dispute's subject.

Metaphysics

From this perspective, it seems like regular war, regular violence - that always has a (male) gender. Curiously, the warring parties lack any intersection while having the same topic. The resolution - as to any war - is usually not based on "where the truth lies", but who yells louder, who has media and mob sympathies, who is politically or at times even physically stronger, who is more clever strategist in the battle of the moment. But who will win and who will lose is just an arbitrary result of chances and skills completely unrelated to the theme. The only Truth we can find in it is seeing it in all its complexity, fury and mess. Like it or not, The Topic itself is actually described by this untidy situation - the whole of the situation - with all its sides and details.

In other words, there are at least two opposing perspectives on the topic - and the truth is just seeing it as it is. Trying to find out who is right and who is wrong means just moving in the vicious circle of the false dilemma. Taking sides suggests not understanding the topic and delaying the general shared comprehension of it.

The ultimate issue of the multiculturalist and nationalist agenda, or sometimes just explicitly pro-Islamic and anti-Islamic stances is, that they fail to see and hear the others side really. Yes, the other side is not right or wrong, there is the other side. For example, there are people who welcome Islam without wink, people who are afraid of it and people who reject it without thinking. Period.

While democracy is far from being a golden standard around the world, it is already outdated concept. Democracy can often degenerate into the despotism of majority, regardless if the majority is right or even informed. If the support for the opposite ideas is equal, there is no end to arguments and the problem is perpetuated or even exacerbated. Consensus-searching approach, even if utopian in extreme, can be inspiring because it makes the sides inspect and listen what the other one wants. Rarely is the conflict based on total opposition, often it may be just important detail that was missed by "the other camp".

There may be a society that is open, but knows its borders and limits. A multicultural society that is not idiotically idealist. A society that adequately, respectfully and sufficiently answers fears of those who have them - without labeling them as racists or xenophobes - and thus receiving wide and robust (less attacked, more stable) approval to continue living as a multicultural society. This is not a compromise, this is sanity. Absolute openness as much as total closeness are both extremist and dumb. We may attempt to achieve this mutual understanding or just continue to exhaust ourselves in the tug-of-war.

Banal facts

Yes, there are people who are fundamentally different from us and living lifestyle beyond our culture's comfort zone.

Yes, there are people who are afraid of it, for various reasons - from lacking information to having quite a lot of information - people are naturally wary of the unknown.

Yes, people who are different from us are not immediately enemies. They can coexist with us peacefully and even enrich us.

Yes, people who are different from us may have thought patterns that do not allow them to understand us completely, that gradually alienate them and make them hostile towards us.

Yes, it is unpleasant to be unwelcome, pointed at, ridiculed, bullied, discriminated because of one's difference. A difference that is often just not understood properly. Our fellow citizens should feel at home, where they are actually at home.

Yes, some members of our guests culture feel like their minority opinion/perspective/lifestyle should prevail and all the other be erased.

Yes, some minorities feel endangered by other minorities. Religious minorities may be hostile towards sexual/gender minorities based on a dogma.

Yes, forcing our guests to become like us may be labeled cultural imperialism (feeling superior to them).

Yes, integration - partial adaptation, not assimilation - may be a necessary "evil" that allows those with differences to co-create functional society with the rest.

The anxious society

One of the most idiotic approaches known in the world is rejection of fear. Societies with revived and renewed cult of heroes (who save the day) or prophets (who save all) are prone to it. "Clench the teeth, overcome the pain, push the limits, break the borders, make miracles." Perhaps one would see a use for this in economical incentive, exploration, research, progress. Though the dark side of this ideology is insensitivity, boastfulness, one-sided-ness, with well deserved mistakes, missteps and failures. However, in a modern upbringing, if a child (lacking experience = information) is afraid of ghost, or water, or exam - loving parent/sibling/friend does not call it stupid, cowardly or phobic. He/she tries to reason, explain, show, gradually adapt, get in touch with subject of fear.

Is contemporary multicultural and liberal current capable of discussing and not dismissing fears of the other side?

One of the template responses we often encounter is, that the terrorists are just rare instances of lunatics, insane people, who can be found in any society or any religion or any ideology. True. Ordinary Muslims are just people who are tying to live their life, like everyone else. True in the first plane. While we may blame tabloid character of contemporary news-making and ideologically biased mind-shaping media for denying these facts. - still a large part of the western media is overtly liberal and multicultural. And despite that, we've failed showing that average ordinary peaceful Islam. In the individual stories. While ordinary Muslims may feel bothered by demanding that sort of self-explanation of them, this is what situation really asks of them.

One may argue, that this has happened already. So why it was not credible enough? Perhaps not the right questions were answered?

Yes, the notion that every crime has a gender is true. Whether you take mafia brutality in Italy, Mexico, or Japan, women beaten by husbands in Latin America, eastern European village, or middle-Eastern household, acid punishments in India or FGM in Africa, brutality of state in North Korea or Saudi Arabia, mass shootings, murderous robberies - or take any period and place in human history - Roman crucifixions, Aztec human sacrifice, Conquista, extermination of American natives, Inquisition, French Revolution, Holocaust, Communism, Iranian revolution, Kampuchia, Islamic State - you can sniff the same dynamics. It is always macho men (or women imitating this cultural pattern) wanting to fight, rule, discipline, dominate, force the others to behave/think/want in certain way. Often, it's just angry young men - in any place and any era - eager to feel connection in wolf-pack, feeling belonging, being special, being called, being exceptional among the masses - and in opportunist and twisted (or literal) way abusing whatever ideology is at hand (of my friends, of my family, of my tribe, of my tradition, of my tribe, of my choice). There's common symptom, that stubborn male: "I'm right and you must listen to me!" History knows no ideology, religious or secular, that was not abused, perverted and degraded in this way. True.

But that does not mean that all the ideologies are equal. Any law system, whether based on God, Ancestors, Nation or whatever non-sense preamble - is in essence just the good old social contract. Agreement to treat each-other alike. Human beings are equal in rights - those that they are willing to attribute to the others around them. Though some do not participate in this exchange and it is questionable, if the ideal of equality then still applies to them, or they are out of the game (of their own accord). Popularly, it is called a crime. While equal in rights - with initial blank bill - we are not equal in personal histories, capabilities, degree of different intelligence quotients, empathy among them, or even proneness or ease to hurt others. As much as humans are different, the ideologies invented and refined by various humans are not alike.

If planned and market economy, communism and capitalism, despotism and democracy produced different results and proved different efficiency in various evaluated parameters, even plentitude of secular and religious social systems cannot be expected to be the same. Some ideologies are more insensitive or inciting or give more space for brutality than the others. Not wanting to see this in stubborn "everything is equal" liberal-intellectual pose is just sheer stupidity. Not wanting to judge religions just because is it "sensitive personal topic" is just pure idiocy. Resisting to judge the other culture from the position of value system of another, just because it is "not nice" in post-modern thinking - is like asking North-Korean politician to evaluate the humaneness of his country within its own morality. This looks like absurd misinterpretation of Einsteins theories - the omnipresent popular/vulgar "everything is relative" ... and as such implicating a total collapse of any sense of evaluating the reality.

"Don’t talk about differences, say what we have in common"

Yes, Islam is Abrahamic religion, sharing some of the prophets and stories with Judaism and Christianity. Islam has (had) its mystic branches - like Sufism. Islam has had its golden era, when it carried the torch of lost knowledge throughout the Christian dark ages and has been the center of science, arts and tolerance relatively to its times. Islam recognizes good and evil, temptation, sin, reward and punishment, afterlife, The Only God and the Satan. It has saints and messiah and clergy, it has preachers, sermons, masses, holidays, temples, holy places, artifacts and rituals. It is a religion of a (written/finished/perfect/unchanging/dead) book. It is patriarchal as much as its predecessors.

If we do not want to engage in discussion along "better-worse" line of prejudice, we can still name "what is different". Islam is decentralized, with no hierarchic structure of authority formulating the norms. Pretty much like evangelical churches or Judaism. This feature is seen as something beautiful in modern governance, but on the other hand, centralized institutions like Roman Catholic Church can suppress both positive and negative deviations. Practiced Islam comes from underdeveloped world with poor economies and illiberal governments - it is not rooted in any democratic country, nor did it produce any historically. It flourishes at best with benign despots. Does its flavor reflect the environment, or does it shape it actually? Are we allowed to ask this? Islam of the majority is not metaphorical, nor explaining. Its holy book is taken as factography, sown with commandments.

Emphasis on literal understanding and not free interpretation (e.g. dismissing some verses as historical, outdated, crazy) is one of its key problems, untransplantable into modern society. Sharia orders harsh punishments. Contemporary Islam does not accept doubting The Book, The Prophet, The God - unlike other contemporary religious practices. Islam exaggerates blasphemy, heresy and does not accept apostasy - it punishes it with death. Islam is overtly machist. It directly and indirectly nourishes patriarchal establishment of the family and society. Unlike "turn the other cheek", "do upon the others...", "love thy neighbor ..." its very core narrative (not politics) is about conquering the countries and forcing them to accept the faith or die. Still on par with angry old Israelite God. Islam improved the status of a women at its original place in its nascent times, but conserves their subjugated status nowadays, often euphemistically describing it as "a different role". Political map of prevalence of state Islam matches the map of persecuting and murdering LGBT people and to some extent any supporters of modern emancipation of second-class genders. There are no contemporary Christian terrorists, nor Buddhist terrorist, nor Shinto terrorists, nor North-Korean terrorists, nor Animist terrorists - even from oppressed and exploited and poor countries, much poorer than those in Middle East - but for some reason (ab)using Islam for killing random innocent people is quite popular. Why? Why we cannot ask? Why it is considered politically incorrect?

Equality through exceptions?

While me may benevolently let the Islam evolve in its own pace and space and with its own value (self-reflection?) system, we have it also here and now, as seemingly integral part of our society. The society that has grown up from state religion, through enlightenment, to secularism and atheism and liberalism. Generations have fought for their right to make jokes of God, to cartoon him as much as Jesus, Lucifer, angels or demons, to dismiss passages from Bible, to curse at Vatican, to sue church, condemn priests, to reject the whole dogma. Millions of people died for it throughout history. This very right allows not only atheists to live among Christians, but also Jews, Hinduists, Buddhist, pastafarians or even Muslims. Without this holy liberal right, not only blasphemers are outlawed, but Muslims as well. They are on the same boat with feminists, homosexuals, or Taoists. But this particular religion’s supporters respond either in violence or at least with drumming the "feeling offended" string.

How come, that out of politeness, political correctness, or even wish not to put more pressure on the troubled minority, we excluded them from those very rules that founded our tolerant society? It is outrageous how people attacking Islam (human ideology as any other, despite what some believe - because they are allowed to) are immediately made into people attacking Muslims, persecuting minority, bullying, spreading hate or insulting their faith. Remember that our society was made out of insulting the faith! Islam of the Western societies’ muted discourse replaced traditional moralist outcry "blasphemy!" with labels like "racist!" and "xenophobe!" and "islamophobe!" - that are shot at whim. Just the old: "shut up, you can't discuss this!" - rendered in contemporary language. It is is not decent, politically correct, intelligent. Post-modernism kidnapped by anti-modernism.

Our society totally failed in not equaling religion (oh it is sensitive private matter!) with secular ideologies (murderers of nations!) and simultaneously equalizing hate towards religion (dogma) with hate towards minority or individuals. While we may generalize "hate crime" as widely applicable term, I must dismiss the concept of islamophobia, that borrowed name and charge from the older, unfortunately real and still not eradicated homophobia. A sane, thinking, intelligent person can't use both of them, they are mutually exclusive. On the very basis of fact that one is hate of religion/ideology/dogma * - something man-made, artificial, learned, adopted, followed - and the other one is hate of human nature, given fact, created by Nature or God, an innate feature an individual is born with, unchangeable, uninterpretable, non-harmful. On one side something that is believed and on the other side something that is. Islam being actively supporting the homophobia, with very rare exceptions, even among those unradicalized, ordinary, average Muslims.

* notice it is islamophobia, not muslimophobia

Ideologies can’t be untouchable!

It is a matter of outdated laws of the past, that were based on lack of scientific knowledge as much as lack of empathy, equalizing acts violent in nature (hurting the other beings) - like murder, causing injury, theft, libel, gossip - with pursuing non-harmful acts (loving or helping the other beings) - like homosexuality, female emancipation or free thinking. It is due to degradation of human being to an object - a thing - that theft of non-living property, animal, slave and even wife (adultery) was criminalized on similar terms. Such thinking is not acceptable any more, whether it is pretentiously offending someone's beliefs/ego or not.

Speaking of the offenses. There is a weird tradition even in western countries – perhaps still surviving from despotic times - that now-and-then state arbitrarily criminalizes "offending". Offending God, offending religion, libeling faith, denouncing state symbols, calling a president or government a jerk, offense of a public official. Perhaps because sovereignty is a tricky term, anciently coming from God, now from another fairy-tale entity like People, Nation, Tradition, Motherland, or whatever spirit filed an order for Constitution. There is another contract in the society – when people lend concentrated power (decision making, carrying a gun, surveilling communication) to the hands of few in exchange for a service. Political representatives, police, army, secret service - borrow this power. In order for this power not to be abused, it must be incessantly and unobstructedly checked, questioned, tamed, returned and lent again, even ridiculed. Otherwise it’s not a public service, it is a good old tyranny.

If Muslims get offended by scrutiny and ridicule of their faith (as much as people make fun of nuns, hippie outfits or non/circumcisions), they should question themselves in the first place. Offense often indicates that a person is not really/truly believing in what is "the untouchable topic". If I believe, I smile, neither criticism nor fun undermines my belief, it does not change my mind. Any belief gets either strengthened or dismissed by doubt, arguments and attacks. It’s s healthy dynamic – I believe, I revise, I change – called sanity. One must search and not avoid or suppress or get offended by retesting of thesis, or doubting the beliefs. That’s the origin and very fundament of science. But it’s not just a matter of sense of humor. Forbidding the other person desecrate my own holy items is imposing my faith (the pre-conceptions of what holy/untouchable items are) on him. There is no way around it. The only way to not offend Muslims, Christians or Jews is to become partially compliant with their faith. Freedom of belief is not a matter of sensitivity or compromise or politeness. You either can or have to.

The fundaments of non-fundamentalism:

A bit of Heinlein-style science-fiction: Would it be inappropriate to ask - and demand - from Muslim community if they publicly denounce literal (non-)interpretation of their faith? Publicly reject commandments and stances of their faith that are clashing with liberal laws of the society? Just to make us all feel safe with them and to keep the nationalists/xenophobes quiet. Already hearing the voices saying: "Why only them?" While this is a precarious situation of this particular religious minority - and not the others - I would not mind and actually request that all the religious citizens and maybe every individual of the society does this. We somehow assume that all accept all of the laws, silently, even if they don’t.

A paradox of our fake liberalism is, that while people are being occasionally sued for speaking against minority religion (dogma), no mullah and no priest and no rabbi was sued for "softly" reproaching "homosexual lifestyle" or even without explicitly mentioning it, preaching the religion that doesn't dare to question its integral part that rejects some forms of human sexuality. While it may be difficult for individuals in Muslim countries, it is allowed and also needed here. The individuals still trapped within their family structures even living in the West may be afraid of the wrath of their community, but this is their home now, their task, their duty. They must take courage and repay that freedom that they are enjoying themselves as a minority. To help make it not-just-on-paper for all.

Post-modern pseudo-science

I know someone would say: "But the notion that society is built upon rights of individual is just an idea of one corner of the world. We should not export it through cultural imperialism. Some cultures believe that society works well only if certain rules are followed by all participants, without a choice, without exceptions. Some culture believe that health of the whole body, survival of the organism (society) is more important than wealth or even eradicating some cells (individuals). There are other concepts - different - not better, not worse." While this "tolerant" idea was produced and can be produced only within liberal thought, it denies liberal thought and its own premises that allowed it to be expressed.

Liberalism, multiculturalism, or post-modern thinking are often confusing – they are associated with moral relativism. This is their strong and simultaneously weak point. Anything can be named as anything. There is a fashion of using certain post-modern words: Racism, -phobia, cultural imperialism, patronizing, cultural appropriation, political correctness, respect, offence ... They are over-used, misused and abused ... and I dare say often not understood at all.

There are other beliefs, because someone with liberal values created a fragile system of feigned mutual respect. Few sane and informed individuals, knowing the details of multitude of faiths in the world, would choose Abrahamic religions. Those are being perpetuated by parents (or state) enforcing that sort of education (with religion as its pillar) on their kids. This denies that beautiful but totally virtual charter of rights of child - the one that should prepare it live along chapter of human rights: Freedom to choose religion. That right can’t exist before being unbiasedly informed about other, some or all of the available (religious) choices. And this can be achieved only by unromantic scrutinizing - regardless of offensiveness.

Liberalism is not a freedom to choose my own bigotry, to choose my own fundamentalism, to choose my own dogma.

Liberalism is not a freedom to impose my views on others - using asymmetrical pressures within repressive hierarchies like family, ethnicity, community, state.

Liberalism is not a freedom to abolish liberalism, if we freely decide to do so.

Ideals

I'd like Islam to stay in Europe. To cultivate gentler versions of Islam and offer them elsewhere. Also as a positive and negative example. To stimulate our society with elements that we don't have, to see the other functional and non-functional, pleasant and less-pleasant options of how to arrange relationships, families and society, and to constantly remind us that while we allow different self-imposed systems of rules, it is liberal right "to choose" them or "to dismiss" them - that is beautiful at the end. But I'd like an Islam that talks! Not the one that defends itself or is hysterically defended.

Quite a nasty form of journalist farce was a recent mobbing and bullying of scientist Richard Dawkins, for he voiced his opinion on Islam as a particular ideology and a particular practice. The whole science and contemporary progress it has achieved - from penicilin to optical fibers - is based on free thought, stating opinions, hypothesis, refutations. Even an electricity would not be discovered, if scientists were bound not to say something that may be religiously or "culturally sensitive". Many discoveries would not happen without scientists allowing themselves interdisciplinary perspective. It must feel utterly shocking if said-to-be the most progressive circles of society ("liberals") attack someone just following his scientist discourse habits, because what he says they deem "inappropriate"!

This is how liberal media responded - note that his speach is already pre-labeled as "abusive" (... also here and here)

These are hapless attempts for refutal of his speach full of false generalization, artistic pseudo-arguments and of course emotional extortion (... also here and here)