Islam and Muslims

I just wrapped up an extended Twitter “discussion” on Muslims and Islam. I didn’t even bring them up, someone jumped in with an attack on Muslims while I was getting scolded for being too intolerant of intolerance.

And then this happened:

islam

(Not sure why, but the original tweet seems to have been deleted.)

So let’s talk about this, shall we?

I do not support,condone or defend Islam. I don’t like any organized religions, but I’d have to place Islam at the bottom of the list among major world religions. It’s extremely patriarchal and oppressive toward women, and even though it’s true a strong majority of Muslims don’t condone it, has been used to justify a great deal of violence in the modern world.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to countenance persecution of or discrimination against Muslims just based on them being Muslims. That is both morally wrong and unwise. Attitudes among Muslims run on a spectrum, and vary greatly country to country and region to region. For example:

Attitudes toward Islamic law vary significantly by region. Support for making sharia the law of the land is highest in South Asia (median of 84%). Medians of at least six-in-ten Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa (64%), the Middle East-North Africa region (74%) and Southeast Asia (77%) also favor enshrining sharia as official law. But in two regions, far fewer Muslims say Islamic law should be endorsed by their governments: Southern and Eastern Europe (18%) and Central Asia (12%).

[I]n some countries where Muslims make up more than 90% of the population, relatively few want their government to codify Islamic law; this is the case in Tajikistan (27%), Turkey (12%) and Azerbaijan (8%).

Distinct legal and political cultures may help to explain the differing levels of support for sharia. Many of the countries surveyed in Central Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe share a history of separating religion and the state. The policies of modern Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, for example, emphasized the creation of a secular government; other countries in these two regions experienced decades of secularization under communist rule. By contrast, governments in many of the countries surveyed in South Asia and the Middle East-North Africa region have officially embraced Islam.

By the way, Sharia sounds scary (and it definitely can be) but of course it’s more complex than many people realize. Severe punishments (beating, stoning for adultery, execution for apostasy, etc.–which I condemn, in case there is any doubt) are only part of it, and again support for them varies greatly throughout the Muslim world.

Even though I don’t follow any religion myself, our country was founded on religious freedom, and that means I’m free to be atheist as much as Mary is free to be a Christian and Ahmad is free to be a Muslim. Freedom of religion is freedom of religion, as long as your beliefs aren’t harming others. That means we absolutely want to keep violent extremists out of our country, and combat violent extremism around the world…which by the way, Muslims are helping us do.

We also want to let in those who are fleeing extreme violence, like in Syria. And we want to welcome those who choose to be part of a secular nation like the United States, where no religion is dominant over others. We’re not going to eradicate Islam; it’s preposterous to try. What we want is to encourage progressive Islam and welcome its adherents. Those who believe women deserve equal rights, that killing gays is wrong and unprovoked violence in the name of their God is evil.

By painting all Muslims (yes, I’m #NotAllMuslims ‘ing this) with a broad brush, and assuming they all want to do us harm, we’re only making it easier for extremism to thrive, and harder for the religion to modernize and moderate. It just doesn’t make sense.

Details, Details

Details and facts matter. This is true whether they are convenient for us or not. So some time has passed, we know more about Donald’s executive order about immigration, and some other historical context has come to my attention. So let’s talk about it.

About that list

First, like many others I implied that Donald cherry picked the list of countries to be effected by the ban based on his business interests. This appears to not be the case. As many conservatives, including the administration, are pointing out today, the list of countries originated during the Obama administration. It started with the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which President Obama signed into law. After that, the Department of Homeland Security (again, under Obama) added to the list, bringing it to what it is today. Mea culpa! So the administration didn’t create this list, but I’m sure they were overjoyed to find one that happened to align with Donald’s businesses AND was created under Obama, giving them deniability. Nonetheless, the facts are what they are and we need to acknowledge them.

So that means this is really Obama’s policy, right? Wrong! The list of countries is shared, the policy is not. Due to the Act, the people from these countries (or who had recently traveled to them) are not be eligible for visa waivers, meaning they have to apply for a visa (and go through the requisite screening process) to enter the US. This legislation was criticized at the time, from both sides, but the fact is it goes nowhere near as far the latest executive order. The policies are not at all alike.

But wait, there’s more

Another attempt to tie this to Obama, and therefore indicate that protests are either wrong or hypocritical, is to compare it to his 2011 action regarding Iraq. In a nutshell, in 2011, after a terrorist plot was discovered, the Obama administration stopped processing applications for refugees from Iraq for six months. This article does a good job of describing the differences between this executive order and Obama’s 2011 action, but I’ll summarize the key ones here: Continue reading

Muslims and Police, What?

If you’ve been living under a rock (or aren’t American, though I suspect this is getting a lot of international attention) you might not know that America’s first Orange President has followed through on one of his more odious campaign promises by ordering a de facto partial ban on Muslim immigrants.

Partial because it applies only to certain countries. And how many of the 9-11 hijackers came for those countries? None…zero. Of course, some people noticed something curious about the Muslim countries excluded from that list, namely that they are countries in which Donald has business interests! Isn’t that special? Oh, and one more thing. People who already immigrated to the US legally are caught up in the web. Continue reading

Why Your Point is Pointless

Are you someone who has said something like the tweets below, in the media, on social media or just to friends?

You probably thought you were gosh-darned clever, and caught these guys red-handed being hypocrites!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the point you’re making doesn’t actually exist. You’re really making a terrible analogy. Continue reading

Reblog: Ryan T. Anderson’s salad of rotten apples and oranges

Ryan T. Anderson is ALL ABOUT the anti-LGBT laws in Mississippi, North Carolina and Missouri, and he has the sads that businesses and major artists are not so enamored with them.

At The Slowly Boiled Frog, Mr.David Cary Hart takes on one Ryan’s recent screeds.

Anderson tries to redefine the controversy. The Mississippi law is anything but narrowly applicable. And those public restrooms in North Carolina include those in public schools (which was the point of the Charlotte ordinance). Also, Mr. Anderson conveniently ignores the fact that the state nullified numerous municipal nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina’s largest urban areas. Thus “at issue” are laws that officially make LGBT people second-class citizens. It is a new flavor of Jim Crow.

Check out the full post here: Ryan T. Anderson’s salad of rotten apples and oranges

To Boycott or Not to Boycott

boycott

With the recent passage of some pretty crappy laws in North Carolina and Mississippi, I’ve seen calls to boycott the states.

But is boycotting the right thing to do? Boycotts have mixed results in bringing about change. The reality is they don’t often substantially impact the target’s bottom line, but instead focus media attention and harm the target’s image, according to Northwestern University’s Brayden King. How much financial impact could individuals have boycotting a state? Even if you add in the various governments that have banned travel, how many of their state and municipal employees are really traveling to MS and NC on “non-essential” business anyway?

King notes that the study has one ironic conclusion: “Companies with poor reputations to begin with are less vulnerable to boycotts, because they have less to lose.”

Extend that to states, and I think North Carolina has more to lose than Mississippi, so a boycott may be more effective there. Indeed, we’ve seen NC getting more media attention, despite the belief of many (including myself) that MS passed a worse law.

Things start to heat up when companies and celebrities get involved. I’m not talking about releasing some empty statement about how they are “disappointed” with the law. I’m talking about PayPal canceling plans to open a new facility (which would have brought 400+ jobs) and Bruce Springsteen canceling a show in North Carolina. These are attention-grabbing headlines. Continue reading

Hate in the States

msprotest
Protest in Mississippi

As I type this, hundreds are gathered in Jackson, the capitol of Mississippi, protesting the state’s HB 1523, the preposterously-named “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” and urging the governor to veto it. The fallout from North Carolina’s HB 2 (pdf) is still coming down. What the heck is going on?

While the recent successes for LGBT rights in the U.S.–particularly the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling–have caused many to let their guards down and celebrate victory, others have been urging us to stay vigilant. In his book “It’s Not Over“, author, activist  and radio host Michelangelo Signorile predicted a backlash, and warned us against “victory blindness”. It turns out, he was right.

We have seen a rash of anti-LGBT laws sweep the country, mostly at the state level and often under the guise of “religious freedom”. Let’s take a look at a few of the worst of them. Continue reading

Ryan Anderson is a Sad, Lonely Man

Red heart with white equal signIt’s that time of year again when couples celebrate their love (out of obligation or desire) and singles wallow or embrace their singleness. Looks like our favorite Ryan T Anderson is in the wallowing camp. His “woe is me” is indirect though, and not obvious unless you’re familiar with him.

He wrote this piece on the topic of love for Valentine’s Day: Does love really equal love? I’m going to be honest, I only skimmed it. Ryan says the same things over and over again in slightly different ways, so if you’ve read a couple of his pieces that’s all you really need. This one was more of the same: love is not all equal, same sex relationships are different (meaning inferior), oh heavens to Betsy! Oh, and straight people ruined marriage and opened the door for those pesky gay people to get married. Damn straights!

Who is Ryan Anderson? He’s a man in his mid 30s who has never been married and does not appear to even be dating. He’s Catholic, but he’s not a clergyman. He’s educated, employed and a decent looking guy when he’s not letting his beard grow out of control. Why is it that he’s single and had no discernible history of romantic relationships? Continue reading

Prayer and Guns

Guns and religion in one blog post? Yes I can! Let’s do it…

Remember a few months ago, after yet another mass shooting–I literally can’t recall which, there are so many–when America, driven largely by social media, collectively decided they’d had enough “thoughts and prayers” after gun fatalities? Twitter exploded, and the New York Daily News printed the iconic cover seen below.

kingprayer4n-7-web

This was the result of pent up frustration, sadness and fury over the current state of violence, particularly mass shootings, in the United States. Time after time these things were happening, and time after time we saw our elected officials, who could and should be doing something about it, sending their “thoughts and prayers” out to the victims and their families. It pissed us off. It pissed me off!

There is always a subset of religious folks–largely Christian, let’s be honest–who relish playing the victim. This provided an excellent opportunity. The term “prayer shaming” was born. “Our religion is under attack!” they cried out. They seemed to think they were being criticized for praying! But they weren’t. By and large, we were criticizing those who had the power to take meaningful action but who either did nothing or actively impeded attempts to do something.  Continue reading

Nope, SSM is STILL not like abortion

Remember when BruiserBlog favorite Ryan T. Anderson comforted a distraught middled-aged woman by comparing same-sex marriage to abortion and I pointed out how stupid that was? Well I guess he must have missed it. Somewhat to my surprise, he’s still banging that drum. In a new post on right-wing web publication The Federalist, Ryan–after some characteristic whining, and pimping his new book–opines:

Will the defenders of marriage be treated like bigots? Will our society and our laws treat Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife as if they were the moral equivalent of racists?

Perhaps not. Think about the abortion debate. Ever since Roe v. Wade, our law has granted a right to abortion. Yet, for the most part, pro-life citizens are not treated as though they are “anti-woman” or “anti-health.” Those are just slurs from extremists. Even those who disagree with the pro-life cause respect it and recognize that it has a legitimate place in the debate over public policy.

First, I won’t paint with broad strokes here, but some in the anti-choice movement are in fact anti-woman. But I’m not going down that path.

Listen, Ryan, I already covered why these things are not the same or even similar. It’s not apples to oranges, it’s apples to brussels sprouts….they’re not even in the same family. Most on the anti-abortion side see an innocent victim, and the taking of a life. That simply doesn’t exist in marriage (both spouses are willing victims, and their lives are only ending in the jocularly hyperbolic sense).

Before I noticed Ryan tweeting this, I saw fellow blogger David Cary Hart’s post on it (he hits on more of the points in Ryan’s latest hogwash–which frankly was TL;DR for me–so it’s worth a read), and in echoing my own thoughts, he had this to say:

More to the point Obergefell is not Roe. Nothing could be more illustrative of this than the fact that the pro-life (really anti-choice) movement has secular support while opposition to same-sex marriage falls strictly along religious lines. Indeed, Anderson’s opposition is a product of his ultra-orthodox Catholicism. Of course Anderson’s opposition to Roe is for the same reasons.

However, believing that a fetus is a baby, anti-choice activists visualize a flesh and blood victim. There is simply no visceral comparison with regard to same-sex marriage.

But wait, what’s this? Has Ryan developed a bout of realism?

Will the same tolerance [as that shown to those who are “pro life”] be shown to those who believe the truth about marriage? Will the government respect their rights of conscience and religious liberty? It doesn’t look good. So far, the trend has been in the opposite direction. We must now work to reverse it.

He loves that meaningless phrase “the truth about marriage” so much that he titled his book (did you hear he has a new book out?) Truth Overruled. I wouldn’t say this is realism so much as alarmism, as he spends the rest of the piece trying to make people feel better about their opinions (“it’s totally different than race!”) and stoking fear that if they don’t do something, they will be treated like social lepers and the government will steal all of their religious freedoms. Of course, if you just buy his book, he has all kinds of information there on just what to do now.

Nice try, Ryan.