Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Morning's Pinata

Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate:

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything "offensive" to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it's easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims—to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be "phobic." A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

Is he right? Is he wrong? Discuss. And read the whole thing -- as is usually the case with Hitchens, there's something to offend everyone.

1 comment:

W.B. Picklesworth said...

He makes an important point which liberals won't care to hear because it deprives them of an easy chance to do their "I'm so holy and you're a redneck" routine: there is a rational basis for distrusting Islam.

I had a friend who was in Sweden this past year. He went to a lecture that was protested by Muslims and then shut down by the police. Free speech? Nope, not when it offends people who are inclined to violence.

Wait a second, did I just insinuate that Swedish Muslims get violent? Isn't that Islamophobic? And here lies the rub. Are we able to engage in observation of actual events and include these observations in our discussions? Or should we hold to our principles without admitting this extra evidence? It isn't a fake question.

I'm all about the principles, but it's rather maddening when liberals do their three-monkey dance (see no, hear no, speak no), pretending that the situation is a straightforward question of religious freedom vs. naked bigotry. Do they frame it that way to try to smear their opponents or do they do it because they're too dull to observe the world around them? So which one is it?*