Friday, February 20, 2015

Killing ideas via slander

There's a rather interesting trend that's going on at the moment where people have upped the ante and have started using terms like prejudice, bigot and Islamophobia when dealing with anyone who's trying to criticize the abhorrent and morally reprehensible practices in Islam. It's to a point where accomplished and highly intelligent scholars in their respective fields such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, even with their vast experience in presenting ideas, have somehow hit these proverbial landmines due to no fault of their own. These are people who have spent an incredible amount of time, Sam Harris in particular, to ensure their points are not misconstrued to the point where anyone who has an understanding of English would be extremely obtuse to refer to them as having prejudice, being Islamaphobic or bigoted. And yet this pattern keeps occurring. At this point, anyone taking that stance is clearly being disingenuous and no longer worthy of having a discussion with. One of my goals in writing this is to simply have it available in the likely scenario where I have to deal with anyone who's parroting this behavior in order to save time. And time needs to be saved because, as it stands, we're having very little discussion on the important issues that are plaguing certain groups and nations following Islamic practices.

One of the most common things I've noticed is people using false equivalency, which is a fallacy. They play this verbal algebra saying that all religions are equally good and bad without providing evidence to support this. A good example of this can be found here which is an article that was authored by Cenk Uygur. Simply listing a few incidents where Christians have behaved poorly and juxtaposing them with a few incidents where Muslims have behaved poorly does not prove that both of them are equally flawed. If morally reprehensible practices could be measured like we measure an electric current, you'd clearly see a difference between the two. Now we can't get an accurate reading but we can get an idea of how they differ. For instance the extremists who caused the majority of terrorist attacks in 2013, 66%, were carried out by people of the Islamic faith and revolve around ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Qua'ida, the Taliban and its affiliates. And that number is growing. In some places Islam condones pedophilia, Niger being the biggest culprit and Yemen the most extreme to the point where children have died from intercourse as early as the age of 8. This alone should be pushing the needle on the proverbial moral meter into the red. But on top of that you have countless number of people being imprisoned, tortured, raped, murdered and/or disowned for practices that are perfectly normal. So for anyone to look at this and still claim there are no differences is deceitful and extremely dishonest.

Another problem that surfaces is that even though one takes the time to clearly indicate that it's only certain groups and nations that are culprit in these terrible practices, people are taking these as blanket statements and/or simply replying saying that you're a bigot/Islamophobe. That's quite simply dishonest and needs to stop. One of the ways to achieve this is to simply ask the person if they deny the facts you presented to them. You can also ask them how those facts apply to the entire Islamic population. I've even had people try to turn it around saying I think other religious faiths are superior to Islam and by proxy those people are better than Muslims. This is just a simple strawman as they are drawing this conclusion for you. The goal ultimately is to be able to have a discussion regarding the bad ideas and practices of Islam in order to push forward reformation. We're in the unique position of not being in these areas where this criticism will get us imprisoned, tortured and/or killed. This is why it's imperative to speak for those who can't without consequence. It's also one of the reasons why I hold those who do speak out and happen to be Muslim/ex-Muslim in the highest regard. There are numerous testimonies  on what can happen when Muslims or ex-Muslims try to speak out challenging the status quo.

To the Cenk Uygurs, Glen Greenwalds and Reza Aslans out there, I'm through playing this pointless game. Reformation needs to happen and when you're resorting to fallacious talking points that require more time to dismantle than it did for you to make them, you're doing nothing but stalling the discussion and taking attention away from the problems plaguing certain groups and nations of Islam. I don't offer the same disservice when you speak out against things like drone strikes, calling you unpatriotic especially when I agree with you on that front. That kind of disservice is the same as calling people bigots/Islamophobes when they're clearly trying to address and raise awareness of serious problems in the hopes to better the quality of life for individuals you say we hate.  You'd do better reporting on these matters than trying to falsely label those bringing the problems to your attention. Until then, you're part of the problem and are doing nothing to change the landscape.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How a large number of Muslims actually are violent, morally bankrupt and modern media's ignorance

Recently an article surfaced which stated that the more Muslims you have, the less homicides will be committed. It then goes to claim that because of this fact, it obliterates any notion that Muslims are more violent. Now this premise is problematic for a few reasons.

For one, in order to verify the numbers that M. Steven Fish used, I'd have to purchase his book. Nowhere in his article does it provide data to support that particular claim or what was used to get his results. I took it upon myself to look at metrics offered by the UNODC instead. Looking at the countries that have the highest concentrations of Muslims, the numbers varied, drastically. There's no clear or concise pattern that emerges and to form an average from that data, due to the volatility in its variance, doesn't make sense. For instance you look at a place like Pakistan, who's 96.4% Muslim numbering roughly 179 million and their murder rate per 100k people is 7.7 in 2012. In Saudi Arabia, population with 25 million Muslims(97.1%), their rate is at 0.8 in 2012. There's obviously a fairly large disparity between the two and in no way are homicides showing any consistent pattern. So why make an average out of the lot to compare it to an equally volatile set of data from various other regions? Keep in mind I'm no statistician however from what I do understand of math, the larger the scope, the less your data is going to mean anything.

Another, and more immediate problem, is the assumption that homicide is a clear indicator as to whether a population is violent/immoral or not. All it's doing is showing whether or not people are killing other people in the same region. Under no circumstance does it take into consideration the worth of a woman for instance. Nor does it look into the amount of people being executed for homosexuality, apostasy or adultery. It also doesn't show how from the 204 high-casualty terrorist bombings, 61% of those were carried out by Muslims. A fact that was readily omitted by Zack Beauchamp who wrote up the article for vox, Glen Greenwald who tweeted it and Cenk Uygur who ran with the story on The Young Turks with a headline saying "More Muslims = Less Murder". Which is an odd thing considering it was stated in the very article supplied by M. Steven Fish.

Here's what we do know. The majority of terrorist attacks in 2013 were carried out by people of the Muslim faith and revolve around ISIL, Boko Haram, al-Qua'ida, the Taliban and its affiliates. Since the year 2000 100k people have lost their lives due to terrorism. This is not a small statistic to be omitted with things like "You're more likely to get killed by lightning than to die from a terrorist attack". That kind of insensitive apathetic nonsense does nothing to address the fact that people are dying due to Muslim extremists. And that's just by terrorism.

There's also the morally questionable practices and beliefs that are found in Sharia. One can simply look up which countries are the greatest culprits of enforcing this totalitarian system. We're not talking about a small segment of their population here. In Pakistan, with a Muslim population of 178K, consisting of 11% of the Muslim world, people get stoned to death for adultery. In Bangladesh, which is 9.2% of the Muslim world, homosexuality is illegal and some have been arrested. In Egypt a woman's testimony is worth half of that of a man. That's another 4.9% of the Muslim world. One of the most disturbing practices can be found in Yemen where you can legally marry and have sex with children. 1.5% of the Muslim world. Some have even died due to intercourse. She was 8 years old.

Personally I'm sick and tired of mouthpieces making blanket statements like "Muslims are not violent" or morally bankrupt when it's blatantly obvious that a significant number of them are. Granted there's a large number that are outraged by the practices I mentioned but they're not the people I'm concerned with. I don't want to live in a world where children have to marry grown men and die because of sexual intercourse at the age of 8. Until there's a reformation of Islamic practices and beliefs, this kind of archaic and indefensible behavior will continue.

As for people like Cenk Uygur, Glen Greenwald and Zack Beauchamp, might I suggest some actual journalism that stretches beyond the reading of a single article. Hell you couldn't even be bothered to cover all pertinent information that lied within it. Try doing what people used to do before everyone went out, got a blog and presented their opinions whilst omitting several key components that would drastically change the landscape of the conversation. Unfortunately, it requires a little thing called "work" that goes beyond parroting and paraphrasing what's already been typed up by someone else. As it stands right now, you're part of the problem.