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.