Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism?
On September 10, 2001, Sam Harris was studying neuroscience in California, and Maajid Nawaz was in Egypt working as a top recruiter for one of the biggest Islamist organisations in the world. The next day sent them down paths that would converge 15 years later in an unlikely collaboration.
Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations. Meanwhile, Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organisation. Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends.
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Writes Evan Bernick in a review of Tara Smith’s book “Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System”:
…How judges evaluate assertions of government power matters to real people.
A philosopher at the University of Texas who also teaches at the law school, Smith articulates an approach to judicial review that is designed to place government power under the rule of law—to ensure that the government only exercises its power for constitutionally proper reasons and that mere will does not trump individual rights. While there is no shortage of books on judicial review, Smith’s stands out in a crowded field, owing to its focus on the role of epistemology and political philosophy—the Constitution’s political philosophy—in constitutional interpretation and her incisive criticism of the jurisprudential status quo. Smith’s approach holds the promise of equipping judges to gain accurate knowledge of what the law is and to consistently hold the government to the terms of our Founding document. [Taming the Law’s Coercion – Online Library of Law & Liberty]
Of the 1,149 anti-religious hate crimes reported in the United States in 2014, only 16.1% were directed against Muslims, according to the FBI. By contrast, over half of all anti-religious hate crimes were directed against Jews – 56.8%. The fewest, 8.6% of anti-religious hate crimes, were directed against Christians (Protestants and Catholics).
My concern is with individuals more than groups. However, the politically correct – including the current U.S. President and his Attorney General – have repeatedly expressed grave concern over an epidemic of “hate crimes” and prejudice against Muslims, contrary to the evidence of their very own FBI.
They will argue that since the events of Paris and San Bernardino, it’s getting worse. This may be their fear; but shouldn’t their fear first be supported by facts? Or are facts irrelevant when it comes to pushing a particular, politically correct point-of-view?
It gets worse. Eighty-two leading Democrats have cosponsored a House Resolution (H.Res. 569), “Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States”.
The Resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Democrat Donald S. Beyer (Virginia) on December 17, 2015 — a mere 15 days after Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook gunned down 14 innocent Americans and wounded 23 in an ISIS-inspired terror attack at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
The House Resolution states, “The victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric have faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse because they were Muslim or believed to be Muslim,” and the House of Representatives “expresses its condolences for the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes.”
Given that Jews experience 3.5 the number of hate crimes as Muslims, shouldn’t the House of Representatives be advancing a resolution in defense of Jews? It will never happen.
Keep in mind that House Resolutions, while not binding as law, are often introduced as a “trial balloon” for future legislation.
What kind of legislation do the advocates of this resolution have in mind? What would a law against anti-Muslim bigotry even look like?
“Bigotry,” when rationally and objectively defined, is an ugly thing. The basic error of bigotry involves lumping people as a group while evading their individual identities, in order to support or advance an irrationally based prejudice.
By this definition, Islam is a notorious form of bigotry, every bit as bad (if not even worse) than Nazism. The fact that not all Muslims practice it consistently does not alter the nature of the ideology.
However, even when bigotry is rationally defined, it should not be against the law. People are entitled to hold whatever bigoted views they wish, and to express those views on their own private property, airwaves, or websites to any willing or interested parties.
“Stop making it about us versus them.” Those who criticize Islam in any way, shape or form are labeled bigots. Yet what about the advocates of Islam who call anyone who disagrees with them infidels deserving of slavery or death?
People who call you “racist” for challenging the rationality of Islam presume Islam is a racial characteristic. It’s not. It’s a social-political-religious ideology. Islam’s central purpose is to merge church and state according to barbaric and mind-numbingly conservative values about sex, gender, and practices of daily living. These are things leftist progressives claim to oppose, but when it comes to Islam, they sure change their tune.
The only way to fight militant Islam is by championing the causes of freedom, individualism and strict separation of church and state. If we defended these ideals with even one-tenth the intensity with which Muslims attack them, the world would be a much safer and better place right now.
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