“I’m Not Anti-Muslim. I Just Don’t Like Muslims.”

So this whole “ground zero mosque” story is kind of incredible. It just keeps going. Makes me very weary of election years. No wonder nobody votes. I especially love how both sites throw out the ol’ “Anyone with common sense can see that,” argument. As weary as I am of talking politics, the way we talk about this issue keeps getting more interesting.

The other day I came across this blog post about a Washington Post article about Islamic critics, including blogger Pamela Geller. The short version is that folks like Geller are really mad that the Washington Post called them anti-Muslim. Incredulous, the blog post exclaimed, quoting some examples. It starts with Geller defending herself:

“I am not anti-Muslim. This is a slanderous lie. I love people. All people.”

But then Geller has also said:

“It’s the Muslims who are dragging the rest of the world with them, in their genocidal dreams of annihilating goodness, creativity, production, inventiveness, benevolence, charity, medicine, technology, and all of the gifts of the Jews.”

From a quick and dirty look at her site, it seems Geller likes to find examples of Muslim extremists and then blame all Muslims for their actions. The second quote above was about Arab youths attacking Jews in Germany, a shameful and despicable crime for sure, but not one my moderate Muslim neighbors are guilty of, no more than I’m guilty of picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers because Christian extremists have done that.

Robert Spencer, another writer who resists the “anti-Muslim” label has also written:

“I have written on numerous occasions that there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists.”

So he’s saying all Muslims are terrorists. Including, I’d guess, these Muslims in Minnesota who are teaming up with the Methodists to pack food for earthquake victims in Haiti. And somehow that whitewashing of an entire religion of 1.6 billion people isn’t anti-Muslim?

As bizarre as all of that is, I’m interested in something else.

What Message Are We Sending?
What Geller, Spencer and the like are effectively saying is “I love all people, but I don’t like what these particular people are doing.” It’s fine to say that, but when you make that statement about an entire group of people, you’re going to be labeled as anti-“those people”.

I can’t help but wonder if that sounds anything like the evangelical Christian response to homosexuality? It’s the old “hate the sin, love the sinner” axiom. It’s Christians saying “We love gay people, but they can’t have the same civil rights everyone else has.”

I’d guess Geller’s insistence that she loves all people sounds just as absurd as Christians who insist they love homosexuals while campaigning to undermine their rights.

A recent article from Relevant Magazine explores the next generation’s approach to gay marriage. It’s characterized by a lack of political fervor, a yearning for real conversation and plain old tolerance. I imagine that lack of rhetoric is what we need in the debate surrounding Muslims.

It’d be nice if in this debate we could find that tolerance and appropriately separate the extremists from the moderate Muslims. Let’s condemn extremist actions but celebrate religious freedom for the moderates.

And if you really want to revel in the Islamiphobia, you can check out Loonwatch.

3 thoughts on ““I’m Not Anti-Muslim. I Just Don’t Like Muslims.””

  1. ‘Religious’ tolerance?

    The privileges of being classed as religion should be withdrawn from Islam.

    If Hitler had claimed that ‘Mein Kampf’ was dictated by God, would we be forced to tolerate the Nazi Party as a religion? Islam is first and foremost a mind-destroying, totalitarian political ideology that spreads through the Body Politic like a virus.

    Winston Churchill gave the correct diagnosis over a century ago, when he compared Islam to a contagious virus or meme – ‘as dangerous in a man as rabies in a dog’ http://crombouke.blogspot.com/2010/01/islam-murder-meme-and-rabies-of.html

    Consequently, Islam should be reclassified from ‘RELIGION’ to ‘PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM’ – a virulent contagious mental illness. It could then be contained by the methods used to prevent the spread of typhoid and other lethal epidemics: enforced exclusion and quarantine of carriers, eradication of foci of infection, immunization of the susceptible population etc.

  2. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Why can’t we separate extremist actions from the rest of Islam? All 1.6 billion Muslims do not support and endorse hatred. Some clearly do, and let’s condemn and repudiate them, just as we do with extremist Christian groups.

  3. I think it’s going to take quite a while before that can happen. I’m in the Netherlands where a similar struggle is playing out (though a little bit different obviously because there haven’t been terrorist attacks here. Here, the struggle is part of a larger debate on integration and assimiliation). I’ve studied quite a bit of the dynamics of immigration/tolerance/difference and from what I’ve seen, true tolerance won’t arrive until Muslims have become part of the public discourse. Just look at how mistrusted the Irish used to be – and they’re fine now. It takes a really really long time (and it’s exacerbated by groups that also look different because they’re easy to spot and differentiate from “normal” people). Muslims need a couple of strong intellectual leaders that speak up for the group in public discourse (I take it that that situation is pretty much the same in both our countries: that when Islam is discussed on tv/radio/in print it’s mostly non-muslims or ex-muslims doing the talking) and can ease the way for acceptance.

    They’ll get there. Probably when they become American enough that they can’t really be distinguished (except for skin color etc).

    If you want to feel some righteous indignation, go read Dave Egger’s Zeitoun. That really hurt, even when you take into account that it’s a fictionalized account.

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