I could list other examples of encounters with editors and publishers, as can many writers, all illustrating a single fact: While it remains taboo to criticize religious faith in general, it is considered especially unwise to criticize Islam. Only Muslims hound and hunt and murder their apostates, infidels, and critics in the 21st century. There are, to be sure, reasons why this is so. Some of these reasons have to do with accidents of history and geopolitics, but others can be directly traced to doctrines sanctifying violence which are unique to Islam.
The connection between the doctrine of Islam and Islamist violence is simply not open to dispute. It’s not that critics of religion like myself speculate that such a connection might exist: the point is that Islamists themselves acknowledge and demonstrate this connection at every opportunity and to deny it is to retreat within a fantasy world of political correctness and religious apology. Many western scholars, like the much admired Karen Armstrong, appear to live in just such a place. All of their talk about how benign Islam “really” is, and about how the problem of fundamentalism exists in all religions, only obfuscates what may be the most pressing issue of our time: Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world’s Muslims, is antithetical to civil society. A recent poll showed that thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) believe that a person should be killed for leaving the faith. Sixty-eight percent of British Muslims feel that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted, and seventy-eight percent think that the Danish cartoonists should have been brought to justice. And these are British Muslims.
This is what we owe the true moderates of the Muslim world: we must hold their co-religionists to the same standards of civility and reasonableness that we take for granted in all other people. Only our willingness to openly criticize Islam for its all-too-obvious failings can make it safe for Muslim moderates, secularists, apostates–and, indeed, women–to rise up and reform their faith.
In today’s podcast at 10:30 AM Eastern, we’ll be talking to Julie of Happy Catholic about art.
At 11AM Boston University professor Dr Richard Landes and Yaacov Ben Moshe of Second Draft join us again to talk about how political correctness is leading us (to use Harris’s phrase) to lose our spines to save our necks and why that won’t work.
Chat will open at 10:15AM, and the call-in number is (646) 652-2639. Join us!