Once upon a time, there was a country called East Germany. It was a communist country, wholly influenced and dominated by the old USSR, which stood for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. For its part, East Germany’s official name was the German Democratic Republic. Likewise, the official name that China goes by is the People’s Republic of China and North Korea’s official title is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Are you sensing a pattern here?
There was nothing about any of the above countries that was/is in any way representative of the people. They were/are not republics and they are in no way “democratic” in the literal sense. Political leaders can call their country or themselves anything they wish; calling yourself something doesn’t make it so. Kim Jong Un is neither “dear” nor is he much of a “leader.” Leaders don’t have to murder people in cold blood, as he has reportedly done many times.
It’s troubling that so many so-called liberals and progressives have gotten on the Sam Harris/Bill Maher Islamophobia bandwagon and decided that the terrorists in Daesh/ISIL and other groups who carry out attacks on innocent people represent a strain of Islam. Worse, they seem to think that all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world must somehow account for them.
To that, all I can say is, WTF?
Let me first note that this “standard,” such as it is, is only held by atheists who have not studied Islam and have no idea what Muslims actually believe. And when I say “what they believe,” I fully acknowledge that all humans have free will and can visualize their religion in their own way. I’m talking about religion, which requires people to stay within certain parameters if they’re to call themselves a member of that faith. And the ultimate parameters of Islam are peaceful, not militaristic. But this column isn’t about Islam, it’s about charlatans and phonies and false prophets. It’s about political beings who USE Islam to get their way.
You see, if you would bother to look closely at who is committing terrorist acts and not just stop at their words, you would actually discover that these assholes are no more “Muslim” than Bill Maher is still a Catholic. You would also find that there is no such thing as a “Muslim country” and that most of the countries that many Islamophobes claim to be “Muslim countries” are little more than authoritarian dictatorships that use Muslim trappings to oppress people and keep them down. The people inside these countries happen to be Muslim; if you’re going to strongarm them and take power over them, it’s easier to use Islamic rhetoric than to try to force them all to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s not about Islam, it’s about finding something that a dictator or group of dictators can use to keep people in line and subservient.
I mean, have you met the current Republican Party? There isn’t a modern day Republican politician in this country who hasn’t wrapped his or her bullshit in Jesus’ robes and yet, there is nothing the least bit “Christian” about anything they do. They want to deny poor people food, shelter, education and healthcare. Does that sound like anything Jesus would cosign? In this year’s Republican Klown Kar, damn near every candidate who claimed they were told to run by Jesus or God is gone now, but they all wrapped themselves in Jesus every chance they got even though the Republican agenda is in no way Christian.
And no, not even abortion. There were abortions in Jesus’ time and He never said a word about the practice because he apparently didn’t consider it important enough to discuss. Gays? There were gays in Jesus’ time and yet he said not one word about homosexuality. Besides, the Republican position on gays has nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with the denial of rights. I mean, they don’t want gays to be able to get a job, to marry or even to buy a wedding cake, based on the assumption that two men or two women in a relationship are having sex.
What I’m getting at is, a lot of people call themselves something in order to give themselves an edge, or to give themselves more credibility than they deserve. If you think Daesh/ISIL actually represents Islam, you have a hell of an imagination. They went into areas of Iraq and Syria and simply took them by force, establishing what they took an “Islamic Caliphate,” something that hasn’t actually existed since the Mongols overran them in the 13th Century. Consider; most of the people under their authoritarian rule are also Muslim, so were they acting as Muslims or authoritarian dictator-types? Are they acting religiously or politically? And if they’re acting politically, why does someone invoking God suddenly make their actions religious? The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t.
The horrible attack in Brussels is part of a war, but it’s not a war with Islam. It’s a war with people who act outside the law and think they’re more justified and more effective if they invoke the name of God in doing so. Unless you can make the case that the Koran orders all “good Muslims” to kill non-Muslims in the name of Allah, your contention that there is something about Islam that causes this is ridiculous. Of course, even if you could point to something in the Koran that does say something like that, you’ll then have to explain why most of their victims are other Muslims. The people who run Saudi Arabia and do horrible things to women and other Muslims aren’t acting within the tenets of their religion; they are political thugs who are trying to impose their will on the weak and innocent by scaring them with an authoritarian image of God. When Stalin did the same thing to the Soviets, his atheism didn’t make him do it; he did what he did because he was an asshole; his atheism was incidental. The so-called “Christians” in the GOP who are passing “religious freedom” laws that allow discrimination aren’t acting based on anything Christ supposedly said in the New Testament; in fact, the reality is almost exactly the opposite of that.
A lot of people use religion to beat people over the head, politically speaking. Religion is a very personal and very important aspect of many people’s lives and they struggle to do right by God. The fact that you don’t understand that doesn’t make them wrong. And if your lack of understanding makes it impossible for you to recognize the difference between someone who’s actually pious and acting based on their actual religion and someone who’s using religious constructs to oppress people and hold them down, then I suggest you learn more about those religions so you can tell the difference. Don’t blame the religion; ignoring the 1.6 billion Muslims who are peaceful in order to blame the religion for terrorism is not unlike ignoring the fact that 99% of African Americans live peacefully and within the law to suggest that their race is one reason they’re more likely to be incarcerated.
There is no “radical Islam.” There is Islam and there are people who USE Islam as a political cudgel. There are no “Muslim countries.” There are countries run by strong-arm types who bastardize Islam to keep their people in line. No; Sam Harris and Bill Maher’s language is not intellectual and nuanced; it’s Islamophobic and bigoted. Don’t be like them.