Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Religion of Peace

Greetings, fellow 100MC-ers. Never one to be subtle, I'll eschew an introduction for my inaugural blog post and instead lob a piping hot potato onto your laps: Islam. Can you hear the ominous pipe organ chord in the background?

Back at my solo-blog, I asked "What does it mean to be a religion of peace?" My two examples were Islam and Buddhism, and just seeing them named side-by-side makes it clear what a religion of peace actually looks like. The context is, of course, the erstwhile Koran-burning nut in Florida (where most nuts are found, but not grown), and that damned "Ground Zero Mosque" that's been on our lips for weeks now. But what we're really talking about is a narrative about Islam. Just what kind of religion is it? I quote my post:
Am I the only one confused by the current narrative coming mostly (though not exclusively) from the left on Islam? Islam is a religion of peace, in fact "[it] is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace." As long as you don't make a Muslim angry: "You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities." Both quotes were from President Obama.

A thought experiment: I announce that I'm planning on burning a pile of Tipitakas, to show how intolerant I am of Buddhism. Let's imagine the reaction. How likely would this be seen as the opening act of holy war? How would the worldwide Buddhist community react? Would my stunt garner reactions from General Petraeus and President Obama? Would it even be national news?
I think there's an over-accommodation on the left for the nutty beliefs and practices of Islam that you don't find when the topic is Judaism or Christianity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending those two. But why the double-standard?

I'll leave you with this spot-on anecdote that a friend of mine posted on Facebook:
A reporter once asked an Aussie Buddhist monk what he'd do if someone flushed his holy books down a toilet. He answered, "I'd call a plumber. Those are thick books"

(PS -- I'll try to be more Tyra next time around....)


The Knowledgemonger said...

I'll add my friend's commentary on fb:

"Rev. Jones would like to remind everyone that while the [Koran] burning has been called off, the bake sale is still on for Saturday."

The Diarist said...

I understand that the Rev. Jones has now decided to begin a cash-for-Quran program.

Jack said...

I'm interested that in the section on Christianity you gloss over some salient points:

1.) Fred Phelps is "Christian"
2.) Terry Jones is "Christian"
3.) The Nazis were "Christian" (Did I just invoke Godwin's Law on this blog after only one day?)
4.) The KKK were "Christian"
5.) The Inquisition was "Christian"

All of the above advocated violence in defense of their beliefs in violation of the Gospel of John:

"Whoever says, "I love God," but hates his brother is a liar. The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love the God whom he has not seen..."

And I'd be hard pressed to find anyone on the Left who would NOT consider them equivalent with extremist Islam.

Your thought experiment regarding Buddhism is a bit flawed as it lacks historical context. A better thought experiment would be to imagine that the Inquisition (which was, compared to the general population of Christians, relatively proportional to the size of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and like those had religious AND geo-political ramifications) was happening with all our modern technology and communications methods. What would your thoughts on Christianity be? Christianity has been responsible for some of the bloodiest conflicts in the world (including some of the historical sources of extremist Islam's dislike of the West), and it is only a recent phenomenon that they have been a relatively peaceful religion.

As far as accomodating Islam "on the Left", I'm not sure I follow your point. I don't think you'd find anyone on the Left who's saying that extremist Islamic militants have the right to be doing what they're doing. Perhaps the closest I've ever seen is people daring to acknowledge that perhaps America has made some foreign policy mistakes with regard to that region.

With regard to the Lower Manhattan Mosque (I refuse to call it Ground Zero) Let's paraphrase John the Apostle and turn it into John the Founding Father:

"Whoever says, "I love America," but denies his brother's constitutional rights is a liar..."

Peter Tabakis said...

Jack, I think you misunderstood me. I was certainly not defending Christianity. We haven't spoken enough, so you wouldn't know it, but I'm a frothing atheist. Christianity was responsible for the closing of the western mind for 1,000 years. No other philosophy has interrupted history in the same way. That sin alone is unforgivable.

Actually, modern day Islam shares many characteristics with Medieval Christianity. But what differentiates modern day Islam from every other *modern day* religion is the size of its adherents who resort to violence and force in the name of religion. No they are not the majority of Muslims, but they are more than just a couple of radicals hiding in caves in Afghanistan. Yes, there are Christian kooks. But they tend to be lone wolves. With the Muslim kooks, the violence is organized and often comes in the form of an angry mob that would make the Tea Party blush.

As for what I believe is an over-accommodation toward Islam on the left, I see this mostly in print media -- The Atlantic, The Nation, TNR, the NYT op-ed page, etc, etc, etc. Even my friend K--, an outspoken leftie islamophile admits as much. I quote a light mea culpa of hers: "I feel that I'm often failing to look critically at some aspects of Islam and Islamic culture in my haste to defend it against unfair disparagement." I think it's safe to say the she is not a total outlier on the left end of the spectrum. She just has the guts to admit to a pro-Islam bias. (I happily admit to having an anti-religion bias.)

Finally, you should have posted your reply on the blog! Content wasted!



The Diarist said...

w00t! Our first blog fail!

Peter Tabakis said...

It was written: Peter will fail first.

The Knowledgemonger said...

I believe I had the real original blog fail... see my post.

Peter Tabakis said...

Yay! Lonnie snatches away the lose.

Peter Tabakis said...

Lonnie I just read your first comment here and actually LOLed. Well, it was more of a snort.