Imagine, for a moment, that you're back in the mid 1940's, with your 2008 knowledge, attitudes, ethics and morals. The Ku Klux Klan, which has seen it's power rinse and fall several times over the course if it's existence, is at the peak of its power in many parts of the country. They aren't using terror tactics as much as they used to, but the threat of violence is helping them spread their religion of hate and keep critics silent.
You're having a casual conversation with someone when the subject of the Klan comes up. "The Klan," they say, "is based on a religious belief, and so everyone should respect their religion. Besides," they add, "only a tiny percentage of the Klan actually commits violent acts. Most are just normal people who want to live their lives without bothering anyone. Calling them racists and terrorists is condemning them all for the actions of a few. You shouldn't be painting a group with such a wide brush. That's bigotry."
What would your reaction be?
Now let's zip back to 2008, and change the subject slightly. This time you're having the same conversation, but it's about Muslims. Would your reaction be different? Should it be?
Like all analogies, this one is flawed, because there are some Muslims who haven't bought into the violence and racism that is the core of their religion. But I believe they represent the minority view.
After 9/11 I really wanted to believe that the majority of Muslims were peaceful people, and the evil done in the name of their religion didn't represent the majority. I tried, very hard, to cling to that belief in the face of mounting evidence that I was wrong. I remember the moment when I stopped trying to believe that myth and gave in to reality.
60 minutes was doing a story on a private Muslim high school. We were shown clips of teachers giving lessons that Jews were wonderful people, that non-believers should be treated respectfully, that violence was wrong, etc. Then the kids were brought in for an interview. The girls wore modern clothes, with the addition of head scarves - these were moderate Muslims.
The kids were all bright and articulate. They weren't immigrants, they were second or third generation Americans. They gave all the right answers to the interviewer's questions: Jews were good people, other beliefs should be respected and the 9/11 hijackers were evil people who didn't represent the true beliefs of Islam. But then they were asked a question they hadn't been prepped for: "What do you think happened to the 9/11 hijackers when they died?" Every single one of them said, without hesitation, that they went right to heaven.
So much for Moderate Muslims.
A recent study by The Pew Research Center polled tens of thousands of Muslims all over the world. While it purported to show that in America Muslims are beginning to mesh with the mainstream, Twenty Six Percent of American Muslims under the age of 30 (the prime suicide bombing age) said that violence in defense of Islam was ok, at least sometimes.
We Americans are proud of our tolerance, and we're always working to be more tolerant and accepting and accommodating of other beliefs and ideas. But sometimes this tolerance and acceptance is misplaced. We are no longer tolerant of the Klan, because they were vile terrorists. Yet the violence and terror of the Klan, as horrific and pervasive as it was, is dwarfed by the violence and terror of the "Religion of Peace." In any given month Islamic extremists kill and maim and terrorize more people than the Klan did during its entire existence.
We need to stop pretending that Islam is a religion of peace. It is based, at its core, on murder, terrorism, extreme racism, extreme misogyny, incredible intolerance, and a willingness to use brutal violence to spread their beliefs world wide. In countries where violence and terror isn't working, their tactic is demanding tolerance to spread their beliefs.
Western society needs to see Islam for what it is, and stop pretending it's what we'd like it to be. The recent film Fitna not only showed a tiny percentage of Islamic brutality, but also documented Muslim leaders proclaiming that they won't stop until the world is Islamic. Imagine what a horrible, brutal world that would be.
The Western media is guilty of trying to soften the image of Islam. When Muslims rioted for two weeks in France the BBC ignored the fact that the rioters were Muslims in about half their stories. Most articles that did mention it waited until the middle or the end of the story.
When the D.C. Sniper was caught after murdering sixteen people, we learned that he was a member of The Nation of Islam and had taken the name John Allen Muhammad. For months, though, most news articles referred to him as simply John Allen, a name he had not used for a decade.
Whenever a homosexual in murdered for being gay it becomes front page news all across America, and rightly so. But when Muslims murder in the name of their religion it seldom gets national attention. In January of this year Yaser Said murdered his two teenage daughters while they sat in their car, because one of them had a date with a non-Muslim. Why wasn't that on the front page of every newspaper? A month earlier, Muhammad Parvez, a cab driver in Toronto, murdered his sixteen year old daughter because she didn't want to wear a hijab to school. Was that news story covered prominently? Of course not. That might be perceived as being intolerant.
Whenever Muslims make a demand/request that we change our ways to accommodate them, far too many people immediately acquiesce. They automatically assume that they must, for anything less would be intolerant. But why is it that, in such situations, Western Culture is always wrong, and Islamic culture is always right? Western culture doesn’t give a woman 200 lashes for being raped, stone women for adultery (while letting the men go free), mutilate the genitals of young girls, murder people for leaving their cult, routinely practice honor killing, force young girls back into a burning school house because the firemen might see their faces, behead people, burn people to death, demand the beheading of a woman who let their kids name a teddy bear Mohamed, murder artists for saying they are violent, riot for weeks over cartoons, routinely murder civilians (including those who believe in a different flavor of Islam), teach their children to despise Jews and believe that piloting planes into buildings is an instant ticket to heaven. Why, then, should we go out of our way to make accommodations for their superstitions?
This is one of those rare times when less tolerance is warranted. If a Muslim cab driver refuses to give a ride to a blind man because his seeing eye dog is "unclean," he should lose his hack license. If a casher refuses to ring up beer or pork she should be fired, and claims of religious discrimination should be ignored. We should not be using public funds to install foot baths in rest rooms, or allow Muslims to take over a college student lounges and demand everyone entering obey Muslim superstitions. Publicly funded Muslim schools should not be allowed. School and work should not be scheduled around prayer times. We should give them just as much tolerance as they'd give us in a Muslim country, and no more. We should not tolerate their intolerance.
Stetson Kennedy was as southerner who hated the Klan. After WWII he infiltrated them and learned their secret rituals and code words. Efforts to publicize the information had limited success. The Klan, whose power and influence had come and gone and come and gone and was now bigger than ever, was so entrenched in politics and society that they seemed invincible.
The Adventures of Superman was a hugely popular nightly radio show. During The War Superman had been fighting the Nazi's and Japanese, but now he needed a new enemy. Kennedy contacted the producers and offered them the information he had gathered. They used it two write a month-long series of Superman fighting the Klan.
When Kennedy went to the next meeting the Grand Dragon was shouted down by a very distressed Klavern. According to the excellent book Freaknomics (which tells this story in much more detail) one of them said his kids were no longer playing Cops and Robbers. They were playing Superman Against The Klan. "Gangbusting, they called it. Knew all our secret passwords and everything. I never felt so ridiculous in all my life! Suppose my own kid finds my Klan robe someday?"
At the next week's meeting the room was nearly empty. The Klan, who had thrived on terror and fear, couldn’t survive mockery and ridicule. Their power vanished. And while they are still around today, their numbers are tiny and their power is gone. They are regarded as ignorant, ridiculous buffoons.
We need to do the same to Islam.
When I first heard of the Muslim bombings in London I checked the blog of a friend who moved to the UK. It featured a graphic of a tea cup with the caption "Today's Terror Level: A Nice Cup Of Tea." That is exactly the attitude we need to adopt. These barbarians thrive on fear and terror, but can't handle criticism and ridicule. Therefore, we should criticize and ridicule them at every opportunity.
The Dutch cartoons that sparked riots all across the Islamic world were only done once, in a big batch. The rarity of such commentary proved the point that the Western world is far too quick to concede to fear - not only fear of reprisals, but fear of offending someone. This needs to change. Arab newspapers are filled with political cartoons depicting Jews as hook-nosed blood drinking murders, yet any cartoon suggesting, even slightly, that there is something wrong with their barbarism results in riots and protests from them, and cries of "Intolerance!" from the sympathetic left. .
We need more. More cartoons, more critical commentary, more ridicule. We have to stop being afraid to say they're stupid and ignorant racist and misogynist and violent and evil. But we need to take it a step further and let them know that we regard them, not as fearsome, but as ridiculous, childish, and pathetic.
There is a tricky aspect to this, though. While we need to do treat the group like this, we shouldn't extend this to individuals we meet in our daily lives. We should assume that Muslims we meet are among the cool ones, until they give us reason to believe otherwise. This may be difficult - it's hard to belittle a group and then behave civilly when dealing with an individual who belongs to it - but to act otherwise is to give in to bigotry. I have some dear friends who are fundamentalist Christians, and my life would be poorer without them. And I still ridicule fundys as a group.
History is full of examples of great civilizations being brought down by barbarians, barbarians who used force and terror to take control. Islam's goal is to do it again. Persecution won't stop them - fundamentalists thrive on persecution and are inspired by it. Ridicule, combined with a refusal to compromise our way of life, has a much better chance of succeeding.
Jihad Watch and Islam Watch keep an eye on the atrocites.
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© 2008 Dave Hitt