The Elizabeth Moon affair

LATE ETA: It’s always illuminating seeing what’s being written about me on pingbacks. Needless to say, my (rather low) opinion of the unaccountable & pseudonymous finger-pointers of LiveJournal appears to need no revision. That’s not discourse. It’s self-congratulatory back-pattery while people sit around typing, “ZOMG LOOK WHAT THE BAD PERSON SAID!” Hooray, it’s like gradeschool all over again!

Will Shetterly, Jim Hines, and I have been (sort of) carrying on a (sort of) conversation about Elizabeth Moon’s now somewhat-notorious Citizenship post. Before I begin, I want to stress that I don’t know Elizabeth Moon, beyond her reputation in military science fiction circles — where her reputation is quite good. I’ve been told by more than one writer, reader, and servicemember that Moon is actually top-notch, so if nothing else, this entire late-to-the-party fracas has stirred my interest in purchasing Moon’s work, as such purchases are long overdue anyway.

While going back and forth with Shetterly and Hines, it occurred to me that I am experiencing a fundamental difference in perception, between how Moon’s post was received by her critics, and how I received it. Many of Moon’s critics appear to have taken away from her article the idea that Moon doesn’t think you deserve U.S. citizenship or equal protection under U.S. law if you’re a Muslim. I’ve re-read her article three times now, and I am struggling to find where she has explicitly said such things. So if someone with superior reading comprehension-fu than me can break it down so that this is plain, I’d appreciate it.

For my part, what I saw Moon saying is something I’ve been feeling in my heart for a few years now: that, given the number of American lives lost in the last 30 years — in acts committed by people proclaiming to be acting in the service of Allah and the Muslim prophet Muhammed — Americans as a whole have shown tremendous restraint when dealing with Muslims on U.S. national soil. There have been no pogroms, no detention camps, and the number of instances of death or violence being visited on Muslim Americans because they’re Muslim is remarkably low. Even after the colossal atrocity of 9/11/2001 and certain events which have followed on, like the Times Square (would-be) Bomber and the Fort Hood shootings, there have been no racial or religious purges as have often characterized other parts of the world, both historical and modern.

Yet, the American public is forever petitioned for more tolerance, more understanding, and more emotional and intellectual effort. The American landscape is “Islamophobic,” a recent Time Magazine cover proclaimed. For the better part of ten years, the American psyche has been tied up in knots trying to figure out why these people hate us enough to hijack our airplanes and plow those planes into our office buildings. Because we are a liberal democracy, we expend huge sums of energy trying to determine our fault, our shortcoming, our sin in the affair. That’s the ethos of the age, and for the most part America has stuck with it to a sterling degree.

Now, with the generated flap over the Park51 project near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City, the cry is louder than ever: what sickness infests the soul of America that America needs to demonize these poor, innocent Muslims who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11 or any other atrocity?

I suspect Elizabeth Moon is fatigued by the whole hand-wringing business. I suspect Elizabeth Moon feels — as I often do — that we as the American people — a liberal and accepting people, even of our former enemies like the British, the Germans, the Mexicans, the Japanese, the Russians — only have so much gas left in our spiritual tanks for this kind of navel-focused self examination. I suspect that while Moon wishes very much for the Muslim side of the equation to do a little self-examination of its own, she has not and is not, in fact, advocating violation of civil rights or the legal marginalization of Muslims in America. In fact, if I read Ms. Moon correctly, I suspect all she wants is for the Park51 project organizers to poke their heads up a little higher into the general U.S. cultural smog and realize that cultural awareness is a two way street. Like it or not, 9/11/2001 is a raw wound with a long shadow on the American soul, and whether it’s fair or not, when news of Park51 broke across the landscape, it became a far more divisive and complex deal than anyone at Park51 ever expected.

Nobody is telling Park51 they can’t do what they want with property that is legally owned or leased by them. Certainly I don’t think Moon ever said that, and I don’t say it either. But I would like it if the Park51 crew sat back and considered the broader American picture before proceeding. Because 9/11/2001 still bleeds in the breast of millions of Americans — people with no real quarrel or even understanding of Islam, besides their rudimentary knowledge that on that dreadful day nine years ago, men proclaiming that Allah was their only God took the lives of thousands of American citizens and plunged the U.S. into almost a decade of protracted, tiresome warfare in a country on the other side of the planet.

Context counts. There is context to consider, beyond bromidinous speculation about the racist history and roots of so-called Islamophobia. We have not, as a country, properly reckoned with this thing called Islam — fractured, divided, at odds with itself as much as it can be at odds with us. But if the peaceful progressives in America’s Islam wish to breed good will among Americans, I do not think it wise to ignore the larger American context in which the Park51 project is embroiled.

If I have misread Ms. Moon, that’s my fault. But I don’t think I’ve misread her by much. And I would ask those who believe her to be an advocate of “second class citizenship” for Muslims to look more carefully at the root of her beef. It’s not about phobias. It’s about being tired. Tired of forever being expected to put forth and give and “bend over backwards” as she sees it, for a confusing and often contradictory religion which even many Muslims cannot properly grasp, much less explain to us Western secular folk.

LATE ETA: because certain people apparently demand that they have the last word, I am abandoning this thread in-place. I could lock it, but I’m not fond of that tactic. So fire away, folks. The club is empty and the mic is still hot. Have your last words all day and all night long.


45 thoughts on “The Elizabeth Moon affair

  1. Brad, I don’t mean to offend you with this analogy, but it’s the best I can come up with that might help you walk a mile in a Muslim’s shoes: Suppose someone who believes the Catholic church collaborated with the Nazis wrote a similar post about Catholics. Suppose they supported people who thought there should be no Catholic religious centers near any place that the Nazis had bombed. Suppose it included lines like “I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Catholics, that many Catholics have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways.” Would you think that was fine, or would you think they were displaying anti-Catholic bigotry?

    Okay, one more point from a Christian perspective: No one is supposed to be blamed for what someone else does.

  2. Nope, sorry Will. That example you gave doesn’t show up on my bigotry radar. You know why? Because that is almost word-for-word the sort of language reserved for Catholics by pro-abortion zealots who otherwise hate and detest anti-abortion Catholics. The same people who routinely paint all Catholics and even all Christians with a murderous brush — then give themselves a wordy caveat like you just described — because somebody shot a doctor at an abortion clinic. The same people who hold Catholicism et al responsible for the priest pedophile crimes. Who expect Catholicism of the 21st century to own the great and sometimes awful history of Catholicism in centuries past. Why is it okay to expect all of this from Catholics and Catholicism, but not from Muslims or Islam? Progressives apparently have different rules for Catholicism, compared to Islam. I suspect it’s largely because Catholicism in the U.S. is a “white anglo” faith, whereas Islam is not.

    As for walking in the shoes of the slighted and the oppressed, Will, I have to warn you: I am a Utahn and I am LDS. We can go there, if you want, getting down to the nitty gritty of which religious minority has endured more suffering at the hands of bigots. If Muslims and Islam in the U.S. suffer an “image problem” and bigotry as a result, then it is a small thing compared to the “image problem” and bigotry endured by my own faith. And I will go to the mat on that.

  3. Ah! For some reason, I’d thought you were Catholic. Well, it’s older history, but there’s the Mountain Meadows Massacre. There were people who blamed all Mormons for what a tiny percentage had done in their anger at the US.

    History nerd note: Catholicism has always been of dubious “whiteness” in the historically Protestant US, being associated with Mexicans, Italians, and Irish (back in the days of “no Irish need apply”). A little-known fact: Italians were also put into concentration camps in the US during WWII, and an Italian was lynched in the ’30s or ’40s.

    In case you didn’t see these links elsewhere:

    Muslim Victims of 9/11 Attack

    American Muslim scholar declares: Terrorists are mass murderers, not martyrs

    a post at about Muslim scholars and terrorism

  4. Will, I’ve seen the links. I’m not sure they shed light on why American progressives do not focus the same withering gaze on Islam that they reserve for other religions. The American progressive mindset is quick to castigate Catholicism or Mormonism or Evangelicals, but cannot bring itself to similarly criticise Islam. Oh, there are a few progressives, like Christopher Hitchens, who upbraid Islam to the same degree as other faiths. But then again men like Hitchens are themselves targets of ridicule because they’re breaking with the “doctrine” as it were — that any and all criticism of Islam is racist and/or Islamophobic. For me, the fact that Muslims slaughter other Muslims every day across the planet is still further proof that what Islam needs most from the West, is not coddling or a blind eye, but the searing sunlight of full-spectrum critical analysis. Why are so many Muslims willing to kill — and be killed in the act of killing? Per capita, no religion on the Earth at this time generates more people willing to kill in the explicit name of their faith. But the progressive mindset seems incapable of grappling with this unfortunate fact, preferring instead to cite traditional domestic bogeymen.

  5. How much effect do American Muslims have on the US? Mormons affected the vote on gay marriage. Catholics affect votes on reproductive rights. Muslims in the US just get beat up, cut, or killed because of the deeds of a handful of Saudi outlaws.

    The few Muslims who ignore the Islamic prohibitions on suicide and attacking civilians are people who live without hope. Many of them have been dispossessed of their homes, thanks to the US or US allies who get generous funding from the US. They act out of desperation, and most importantly, they act in a non-Islamic way. Really, we’re back to blaming Christians for Hitler logic.

    And please, answer this: Why are so many Christians willing to kill? Read about the US in, say, the Philippines and tell me who the saintly ones are. Or Reagan’s support for the Contras. I wish we were a Christian nation, but we’re not.

    And saying they’re worse than we are is not a defense, even if you could establish that it was true. What right do we have to keep hundreds of military bases around the world, too often propping up dictators whose only virtue is they look out for our commercial interests?

  6. And people wonder why I’m Atheist. It’s a mess. A big nasty one. For the record, my grandfather was in a concentration camp for being Slavic. I do not hate the Germans or the Russians. I do not hate the Muslims or any Islamic nation (unless I’m on a tech call with a guy in Banglapore who insists his name is “Michael”). I hate the people behind the attacks. I’m tired of people tip-toeing around the Muslim issue. Yes, I will draw a picture of whoever I want because I do not follow your beliefs and it does not bare any weight with me. However, I don’t care where they put their mosques because it doesn’t change anything. Should we be sensitive to those that lost family and friends? Yes, absolutely. But should we forget that this country was founded on the belief that a person is free to practice their beliefs (barring those that interfere with the law) anywhere and however they want? No.

    I personally believe we would be better off if people kept their religion to themselves and in the home rather than using it to define themselves and make themselves look important. I would rather do without religion entirely and rely on being good for the sake of being good and caring for our fellow man because it’s the right thing to do, not because some invisible deity in the sky says you should. As long as people use religion to flex their muscles and look important, tragedies like Septemer 11th will continue.

  7. Will, I am sensing we’re just not going to agree to much on this issue. For you, the terrorist aspect of Islam seems utterly disconnected from the religion. You also seem to see it through the socialist prism: all terrorist motivations being tied back to “haves” vs. “have-nots.” I think your views are quite common for many people who have spoken out since the Park51 project made news. I cannot share your views. Mostly because the evidence — as I see it — doesn’t support the idealistic picture. I’m also struggling to understand why you keep reaching for historical “gotcha” data, when everything I’ve been discussing is in the present tense. I don’t care about the U.S. in 1898 because the U.S. of 1898 doesn’t exist anymore, and everyone involved in the Phillipines war is dead now. And so are most of their children. Islam of 2010 does exist, and Islam of 2010 is a confusing mess which has prompted more than a few Muslim men and even some women to seek out and shed the blood of innocent people. All over the globe. I keep asking, why? I never seem to find sufficient answers, mainly because it is called Islamophobic to even pose such questions.

    As to your last paragraph, American overseas involvement is a whole other Oprah which is somewhat related to the Islamic question, but not integral to the Islamic question. We’d have to embark upon an entire new discussion about colonialism, imperialism, isolationism versus internationalism, Wilsonian doctrine, ad infinitum. When discussing these questions, we might actually find common ground. But where Islam and the terrorist aspect of modern Islam is concerned, I think we’re at an impasse.

  8. Believe it or not Amanda, I am 100% sympathetic to your point of view. I’ve mentioned before that by the time I was 16 years old, I’d essentially reached a state of Church Fatigue, and had determined that I was going to throw the whole thing into my psychic recycle bin. Alas, I experienced a very few, specific, small — but important — spiritual events which have kept me (grudgingly) with one and a half feet in the church camp.

    But yes, I agree absolutely. Whenever anyone has flexed their muscles, using religion as an excuse, it’s tended to result in dreadful loss of life, property, and the creation of feuds and grudges which persist to this day. The UK-Irish struggle between Protestants and Catholics being one example.

    I’m not in favor of legally barring Park51. I am however in favor of the Park51 people considering carefully the larger American cultural context in which that project has become mired. Will seems to see it black and white: bigots versus the innocent oppressed. I think it’s not so simple as that, and I think the Park51 people could do themselves and Muslims in America a degree of good if they but paused and considered pursuing the project at another time, and possibly even in another place. At least until the heat dies down and Park51 won’t feel like such a thorn for so many Americans — people with no grudges or ire at Islam per se, they just know Muslim men crashed the airliners into the WTC, and it feels wrong for an official Muslim edifice of any sort to be built anywhere near the site.

    Even if this is ignorance on the part of Americans, it’s also ignorance which prompted a wave of promised violence and outrage over the joker who was going to burn the Qran — for show — on the anniversary of 9/11. It would be nice to think ignorance on both sides would give way to reason, but sometimes it’s best to just admit that riling up people who are already really riled up, especially when there is very little to be gained, is a bad idea.

  9. Agreed that we’re an impasse. It’s here: “For you, the terrorist aspect of Islam seems utterly disconnected from the religion.” If you think the terrorist aspect of the LDS faith that resulted in the Mountain Meadows Massacre is not utterly disconnected from the religion, I would disagree with you, but I would think you were being consistent in your thought, and I would be interested in hearing how you thought Mormons should address that.

    As for history, a few generations matter. No one thought the Germans were capable of the Holocaust in, say, the 1920s, because they had not been associated with that kind of atrocity for generations. But history shows us that when humans get desperate, they do desperate things.

    Well, we both have fiction to write, so I’ll bow out, at least until the next flare-up in our community, when we may once again be on the same time.

  10. Will, I want to thank you for your candor and your passion on this. We didn’t necessarily agree, but you never made it personal, while also expressing yourself with gusto. and I appreciate that. That’s the thing which is missing from so much internet debate these days. Nobody can do gusto and remain friendly. Everyone goes ad-hominem within a few posts of the disagreement surfacing, and nothing constructive ever gets accomplished.

    For the LDS church, I can only shake my head and admit that the church — especially in the early days — had some stupid things occur. Largely as a result of what I’d call “limited” leaders making dreadful decisions. It might surprise you to learn that there is a fairly vigorous conversation among modern LDS members as to how we can best address some of this historical baggage — as a way to do dignity to ourselves, and especially to those who were wronged.

  11. Brad, thanks. I often say Mormons are among the nicest people I know, and Utah is a gorgeous state. I know there are progressive Mormons–I can’t remember the site now, but I followed an extremely liberal Mormon blog for a while, a few years ago, so I do my best not to lump all Mormons into a single category.

    Huh. The previous sentence wasn’t consciously written as a last little comment about lumping all Muslims into a single category, but I’ll let it stand. 🙂

    Anyway, we seem to agree that we need to find the places where people of different beliefs can work together to make things better for everyone, and I’d like to think celebrating civil discourse is the essential beginning. Railing only rallies the committed.

    Till next time!

  12. I think it would be much more beneficial to build a multicultural center there to help people understand WHY it happened and what we as a society can do to prevent it in the future. Can’t we all just put God aside for a minute and look at each other as humans?

  13. Even after the colossal atrocity of 9/11/2001 and certain events which have followed on, like the Times Square (would-be) Bomber and the Fort Hood shootings, there have been no racial or religious purges as have often characterized other parts of the world, both historical and modern.

    Well, there was a targeted round-up of Muslim immigrants who were deported because of their religion. And there was the creation of Guantanamo Bay, where Muslims were imprisoned – mostly Afghans, but including citizens of allied countries – for the crime of being Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve blogged about some other incidents – the harassment of airline staff for being Muslim, for example – at FeministSF.

    I mean, if you want to defend these racial attacks on Muslims because they weren’t as extensive as some – well, true. Only a tiny proportion of Muslims in the US or worldwide were directly affected. But to brag of this as “forbearance” because not that many Muslims were beaten up by US police or imprisoned by US immigration and deported because of their religion, because not that many Muslims in the US have been killed because of their religion … Do you see why the group being targeted might have a problem with your calling this “forbearance”, as if they ought to be grateful for the attacks on them for their religion not being that bad?

    There is also the brutality and torture of prisoners taken in Afghanistan and Iraq. Prisoners of war have been tortured and murdered by their captors – Americans, allies acting under US supervision – when this has not been the standard practice of the US military in other wars. Because the victims this time are Muslims? I’m certain you’re going to say not: but over a million Muslims are dead because the Bush administration decided that 9/11 made a great excuse to invade Iraq, and quite literally no one knows how many Muslims are dead in Afghanistan because it seemed like a valid response at the time to attack Afghanistan.

    You can afford to say But this didn’t happen because they were Muslims, it happened because – well, whatever reason is your current preferred for why the US started the Afghan war and the Iraq war. But can you tell that to every Muslim around the world who’s witnessed the effects of the US deciding that in this war widespread civilian casualties don’t matter enough to count, that in this war prisoners can be tortured and murdered by the US with impunity to the US personnel responsible?

  14. Yonmei, the scope of your post is so large — the bias so thick — I am not sure where to start. If you want to blame everything on the U.S., go right ahead. My post deals strictly with Elizabeth Moon’s (rather cogent) observation that when a population of a certain culture moves into another country and is surrounded by another, altogether different culture, accomodation can’t be a one-way street. There is an onus on the accepting culture to accomodate, but there is also an equal onus on the arriving culture to accomodate. This includes being aware of context. American Muslims are free to ignore context all they want. It’s just rather silly of them to act shocked or surprised when people get pissed off about it. If you’d like to debate this, then I am game. The rest of your post… as John Scalzi is fond of saying, I think you need your own blog? Wait, it looks like you might have one already. Why repeat here what is already being said there? (shrug)

  15. My post deals strictly with Elizabeth Moon’s (rather cogent) observation that when a population of a certain culture moves into another country and is surrounded by another, altogether different culture, accomodation can’t be a one-way street.

    And never is. The only time I was in New York, I visited the Immigration museum on Ellis Island, and besides doing all the usual things like looking up my surname in the database, I was amused and appalled to discover, via a wall exhibition, that literally every immigrant group entering the US in the past 120 years had been greeted with the same kind of illwill as Muslims were being greeted with. It seems odd that I, a Scot, should have to tell you, an American, this: but immigration is normal, and it doesn’t mean that the immigrants have to try to become clone copies of the people already there. Change is generational. The children of immigrants aren’t the same as their parents: and their grandchildren are different again. A Scottish Muslim pointed out to me that Islam is different in every country because imams rule what Islamic practice is: that right now, we don’t know what Scottish Islam is because all the imams in the UK were born outside the UK, and they’re giving rulings based on what practice is in Pakistan, as far as the law of the land in the UK allows – since in Islam, where Islamic practice conflicts with the law of the land, the law of the land rules. (Unlike in American Christianity, where if the law of the land gives gay people rights you see as anti-Christian, you change the law of the land….) Wait 40 years, there’ll be Scottish Muslim imams, and then we’ll know what Scottish Islam is going to be like.

    And I’m fine with that. My country has existed for over a thousand years, with a fuzzy starting boundary depending how you define “Scotland” – and what’s forty years in that time? My country is not going to stop being Scotland because it’s also now Muslim: no more than it stopped being Scotland because of any other invasion of new religious practice or new languages or new peoples. Why are you afraid for America?

    American Christians are free to ignore context all they want. It’s just rather silly of you to act shocked or surprised when people get pissed off about it. Elizabeth Moon ignored the context of the Cordoba Centre and the context of anti-Muslim violence by non-Muslin Americans, and acted all shocked and surprised at people getting pissed off at her about it. You think that’s silly? So do I.

    The rest of your post… as John Scalzi is fond of saying, I think you need your own blog? Wait, it looks like you might have one already. Why repeat here what is already being said there? (shrug)

    You’re free to comment there, providing you remain reasonably civil. I assumed I was free to comment here.

  16. Yonmei, the scope of your post is so large — the bias so thick — I am not sure where to start. If you want to blame everything on the U.S., go right ahead.

    *blinks* Is there anything I said in this comment that isn’t actually directly true? Or is this another instance of “damn those biased facts!”

  17. Why am I afraid for America? Because of the Ft. Hood shootings. Because of the Times Square Bomber. Because of 9/11/2001. Seems a little pedestrian for me to have to name these specific instances of Islamic violence directed against Americans on American soil. Unreformed Islam, as it’s been imported from various parts of the globe into the United States, has proven problematic and — yes, even deadly — on some occasions. And not because Americans are racist Islamophobes. But because a minority of immigrant Muslims see it as their job to take the polyglot culture and laws of the U.S. and force them into a monoculture modeled on a rather rigid picture of Islam. This minority-within-a-minority is what makes me nervous. It’s proven lethal before. I have no doubt it will prove lethal again.

    It’s the same thing many Evangelical Christians want, we just haven’t had any Evangelical Christians flying airliners into skyscrapers over it. The extremist who sheds the most blood is the extremist who gets the most focus. That’s just the way it is. Compared to Muslim extremists, the Christian equivalent in the U.S. is rather neutered, because the U.S. secular community hates Evangelical Christians with an undying passion, and watchdogs them at every turn. Something the U.S. secular community seems unwilling to do for Islamic extremists — because they’re scared of the Islamophobia label.

    I actually hope you’re 100% correct. That “Scots Islam” is a different animal compared to Pakistani Islam or Saudi Islam. What Islam needs most is for its nastier, toothier aspects to be submerged by the growing of indigenous Western Muslim cultures which categorically renounce all violence and all aspects of Islamism. Islamism being defined as the Muslim belief that it is God’s will that Muslims enslave and convert dar el-harb to dar el-Islam. Through violence and murder if necessary.

    You are, of course, free to post here — my apologies if I implied otherwise. I was just a bit mystified as to why you broadened the scope of your initial post beyond the boundaries of my original post. I wasn’t prepared to engage on that level. It would take hours I don’t have right now, and isn’t what I intended this thread to be used for.

  18. Why am I afraid for America? Because of the Ft. Hood shootings. Because of the Times Square Bomber. Because of 9/11/2001. Seems a little pedestrian for me to have to name these specific instances of Islamic violence directed against Americans on American soil.

    Oh, I was aware of them. I just didn’t realise you believe that individual Muslims, harming (relatively speaking, in the context of US violence against Muslims) so few people, could actually harm your country. To put this in context: on September 11, 0.00001% of the US population was killed by an al-Qaeda strike. You are afraid this could destroy your country, and in consequence, you think American Muslims who had no connection to the attack, ought to feel grateful for not being punished more by people who lost nothing but their peace of mind.

    On 13th March 1996, a Scot named Thomas Hamilton, who had once been a scout master, broke into a school gym in Dunblane and killed 16 children and one of their teachers. (All the guns he owned were licenced and legal, then: the sheriff officer responsible for providing the licence resigned.) This is not quite comparable: proportionally speaking, it’s one-quarter of the losses of 9/11.

    But you might understand some of the emotional impact it had on us as a nation, if I tell you that when I walked to work next morning I saw that the flag on Edinburgh Castle was at half-mast, and I knew why: we were in mourning as a nation for the appalling thing that had been done. But destroy Scotland, that act of violence? Cause us to turn against the Scouting movement? (Cause us to turn against the practice of too easily allowing people to collect more and more guns for “fun”, yes: but not against the gun owners in the way you describe turning against Muslims.) No. No single act of violence, no matter how devastating, could destroy my country. No repeated acts of violence ever have. We are not a pacifist nation: we are not a non-violent country. But we are not a country that can be harmed as easily as you appear to fear for the US.

    But because a minority of immigrant Muslims see it as their job to take the polyglot culture and laws of the U.S. and force them into a monoculture modeled on a rather rigid picture of Islam.

    But why are you afraid of that? Seriously? You are a country with a history of successfully accepting and absorbing immigrants – a country whose previous inhabitants have claimed the next arrivals are threats against the US culture every time and always been wrong. Why so scared? If your polyglot US culture is worth anything, it will stand up to adding a bit more poly to its glot. My Scottish culture isn’t particularly polyglot, and it’s still there even when people order pakora suppers and buy Chleb Wiejski and check Ramadan dates as well as Old Firm matches when they’re planning an event in Glasgow.

    I actually hope you’re 100% correct. That “Scots Islam” is a different animal compared to Pakistani Islam or Saudi Islam.

    Well, of course: Pakistani Islam is different from Turkish Islam is different from Saudi Islam is different from American Islam will be different from British Islam: as Sunni is different from Shi’ite is different from Sufi. They all believe in the Five Pillars and they all read the Qu’ran, but 99% of Christian sects all read the Bible and take Communion and yet how different is British Quakerism from Southern Baptist American? Religions change. In the US the Episcopalian Church takes gay bishops as a given, in England Rowan Williams is still fussing with the idea that he could ordain an openly-gay bishop.

    Islamism being defined as the Muslim belief that it is God’s will that Muslims enslave and convert dar el-harb to dar el-Islam. Through violence and murder if necessary.

    That isn’t one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and as a tenet of the Muslim faith it appears to be exactly as realistic as the idea put forward in the 39 Steps by John Buchan, that there’s an international conspiracy of Jewish financiers out to take over the world. (When we read that book at school, our English teacher stopped us just before that section to point out to us that back then many people believed this, but we were to bear in mind that it wasn’t true.)

    I was just a bit mystified as to why you broadened the scope of your initial post beyond the boundaries of my original post.

    I didn’t think I did. You brought up the issue of the “forbearance” you feel Muslims have been shown by the US: I pointed out that what you see as “forbearance”, it’s pretty reasonable for people who have been the targets of that “forbearance” not to feel grateful that it could have been lots worse.

  19. Yonmei, you pretend as if the U.S. waded into Afghanistan and Iraq unnanounced, and began dropping daisy-cutters. With megaphones bolted to the tanks and blaring, “The Armies of Christ are upon you!” Like I said, if you want to pretend everything is the United States’ fault — because it seems that you do — nothing I say here will change your mind. I lived 14 years in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. I know all about debating the blame-America-first crowd. It’s an ideology impervious to debate. And you’re welcome to it.

  20. For the sake of civil discourse, assuming anyone is “pretending” isn’t helpful. They’re looking through different lenses.

    If you remember, Bin Laden’s group were primarily Saudis, not Afghanis. The Afghan government, who Bush had been supporting, said Bin Laden could not be caught in those hills. Bush then proved they were right.

  21. Anyone mention that the enemy has a nasty habit of sawing heads off on YouTube?

    Any American soldier or civilian who is taken prisoner can expect to be treated, at best, badly. Gitmo, by comparison, would be preferable.

    S. F. Murphy
    On the Outer Marches

  22. Any American soldier or civilian who is taken prisoner can expect to be treated, at best, badly.

    PFC Jessica Lynch, captured by Iraqis: “We gave her three bottles of blood, two of them from the medical staff because there was no blood at this time,”said Dr Harith al-Houssona, who looked after her throughout her ordeal. “I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle. Then I did another examination. There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound – only RTA, road traffic accident,” he recalled. “They want to distort the picture. I don’t know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury.” The Guardian, Thursday 15 May 2003

    Mohammed al-Qahtani: “For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators,” said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani’s interrogation records and other military documents. “Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister.”

    At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.” With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room “and forced to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.

    The interrogation, portions of which have been previously described by other news organizations, including The Washington Post, was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani’s heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows. Washington Post, 2009 01 13

    Yeah right.

  23. Yonmei, you pretend as if the U.S. waded into Afghanistan and Iraq unnanounced, and began dropping daisy-cutters.

    “Pretend”? Three weeks after a group of terrorists hijacked four planes in the US, missiles were falling in Afghanistan, killing people who likely could not have found New York on a map: who had no advance knowledge of the attack – who would never have been clear why the US was now killing them before they died.

    We know now that the Bush administration was discussing plans to attack Iraq, using the al-Qaeda attack as a justification, within days or even hours of the September 11 attack.

    Like I said, if you want to pretend everything is the United States’ fault — because it seems that you do — nothing I say here will change your mind.

    Whose fault was it, then, that the US made aggressive war on Afghanistan and then on Iraq?

    A war of aggression on Afghanistan was formally justified at the time because al-Qaeda had a base in Afghanistan and the government of Afghanistan, such as it was, had not agreed within the space of three weeks to turn Osama bin Laden over to the US government on terms acceptable to the US – the offers that had been made by the Taliban to turn bin Laden over for trial might have been negotiated to something acceptable to both sides had anyone in power in the US been interested in capturing Osama bin Laden for trial. (And frankly, if the goal had been capture-or-kill bin Laden, a small commando strike would have been far more likely to succeed than an aggressive attack on the country as a whole.) Whose fault was it that the US decided for war rather than anything more effective, if it was not the United States’ fault? Who do you blame for the US starting the war on Afghanistan in October 2001? (If you say “al-Qaeda” well, that makes as much sense as my government dropping missiles on Dublin and Boston in the 1980s.) I was horribly struck, in the weeks after 9/11, with the wave of bloodthirstiness that seemed to have struck so many Americans – so many people who just wanted to see the US go to war with someone, to hear that their military was dropping bombs on another country and all was well with their world.

    Whose fault was it that the Bush administration lied the US into war with Iraq? Here I admit the blame is spread more widely – from the US news media that never publicly allowed themselves to say what the whole world knew, that the justifications for war on Iraq were lies where they were not BS: to the government of my own country, Tony Blair especially, who knew that Bush was lying the US into war and who went along with it rather than blow the gaff. The people of the US, insofar as they were simply unable to believe that their own government was lying them into war, could hardly have prevented the war of aggression on Iraq – in the UK, we had some of the largest mass demonstrations against the war, a backbench revolt by Labour MPs against the war – and we were still unable to stop the UK government joining the US in war in on Iraq. But who do you blame for this war of aggression? If you say “Saddam Hussein”, how is he to blame, in 2003, for the US government’s decision to make war on him?

    I take your point – though from the opposite angle – about this being “an ideology impervious to debate”. The Americans who hold that their country mustn’t be held responsible, that everything is always someone else’s fault, that the United States mustn’t be blamed for waging war or for the million or more killed by the war, are somehow unable to conceive of national responsibility – of honest patriotism, when you love your country not blindly denying what it does wrong, but love it fiercely and want it to live up to your love for it. That’s how I love my country: I want it to live up to the ideal I have of it and I am ashamed when it does not.

    It is not, apparently, how you love yours.

  24. Yonmei, yet again we seem to be expanding the discussion far past the intent of the original post. If you’re determined to thrash out the entirety of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11/2001, I’m not sure I have time or interest for that sort of discussion. It seems you’ve got a fairly large bone to pick with America and Americans, and I’m not sure why you’re choosing to pick it here. I’m not George W. Bush nor Donald Rumsfeld, nor am I the U.S. State Department. Also, ironically, you appear to be painting with a kind of broad brush that you have been lecturing me against using, so far as the attitudes and actions of Americans et al are concerned. You lecture Americans et al about bloodthirst, but are fanatical in your insistence that all the blood shed by Muslims in the last 20 years is an isolated thing, utterly distanced from the actual religion and ideology of Islam.

    I’ll say it again. I spent 14 years living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Your arguments are tiredly familiar, and I don’t enjoy engaging the “blame America first, blame America most, blame America always” attitude. It’s a very emotional paradigm, and as such people who hold it aren’t interested in debating facts or exchanging viewpoints, as much as they want to harangue those who feel differently from themselves. Sort of like how most people who engaged Elizabeth Moon weren’t in it for the dialogue, they simply wanted to swat Ms. Moon over the nose with a newspaper for daring to have an opinion they found offensive.

    You’re free to continue your lengthy polemic in this space if you wish. I just won’t be here to participate.

  25. Well, your blog, Brad: your rules. If your preference is to denounce a handful of violent actions by Muslims, claiming (falsely) that this means Islam is a religion of violence, while declaring that the violence unleashed by the US against Muslims is beyond the scope of discussion on your blog … well, I don’t take kindly to people showing up at FeministSF telling us that as feminists we SHOULD be discussing etc & etc, so believe me, I am bowing out less ungraciously than this probably appears.

  26. Brad –
    You said:
    So if someone with superior reading comprehension-fu than me can break it down so that this is plain, I’d appreciate it.

    This is why Elizabeth Moon’s decision to delete all of her comments bothers me so. Quite a lot of people did break it down. if you’re interested, screncaps are available, but they’re not as easy to read as the original format.

    I think you read Elizabeth Moon exactly as she intended to be read.

    That doesn’t mean that that the underlying assumptions that you and she share are correct.

    She added more in her comments that made it clear she’s talking about a sort of assimilation that simply isn’t based in reality – neither the history of immigration of Europeans nor the comparative history of immigration of non-Europeans. In both cases, she draws upon myth although it were fact, and thereby comes to erroneous conclusions.

    To bring the discussion back to something that has more personal relevance for you – would it bother you if the treatment of Mormons was based on the actions of the various extremist schisms that take on the name LDS – the abusive polygamists? The ones allied with other extremist groups? Thankfully for you and other people with Mormon connections, the average American’s perception of Mormons is mostly positive. And you blend in unless you make an effort to disclose.

    Secular and moderate Muslims *have* made statements distancing themselves from the fanatics. They don’t make headlines in American media, because whipping up the bogey of terrorism sells, just as in years past, creating an image of the Yellow Peril was profitable for others. When these secular and moderate Muslims, when non-Muslim Arabs, and anyone mistaken for Muslim is lumped in for attack…is it any wonder that these people start to take the *additional* step of trying to reform the public perception of Islam?

    Ms. Moon, with her vague exhortations, ends up joining some very serious bigots, whether she herself is a bigot of that stripe or not. Just what would the people behind Park51 have to do, to be acceptable? The objections to Park 51 are, as far as I can see, based solely on a hysteria campaign – between the existence of mosques in the vicinity, and the stated aim of the community center, the only real objection boils down to “No Muslims Allowed”.

    Muslims were the victims of 9/11 as much as any of the other 3000. This is an effort of non-radical Muslims with a history of interfaith action to provide Americans with exactly what many have asked for – some evidence that Islam is *not* all about terrorism and religious war.

    To object to that effort is to reveal a no-win, Catch-22 trap for Muslim Americans.

  27. But Murph, that ignores The Narrative! The United States is the source of all ultimate evil in the 21st century. That’s just basic doctrine. All ills in the world can be traced back directly to the United States. You just have to know how to read the tea leaves of current events.

    Unfortunately, I’m a good old fashioned American patriot. I know being a U.S. patriot is passe in our modern post-modern dialogue, where everything must always and forever be the fault of the U.S. and its greed. Patriotism is jingoism, after all. I think Michael Moore said that, and Michael Moore is never wrong. Though he is an obnoxious tub of festering lard.

    That’s something else I suspect Ms. Moon is tired of — and so am I. People who have been the direct benefactors of U.S. blood and treasure being expended to defend the globe against all manner of tyranny: Nazism, Communism, Islamism; carping endlessly how much they think the U.S. sucks rocks.

    I guess no good deed goes unpunished? One novel I’d like to tackle some day, would be a future history where the United States — and all of its military and economy and people — suddenly vanish. Poof. Gone. Without a trace. Just thousands of miles of shallow ocean beween Canada and Mexico. What would the world do without the U.S? Once the party hats got put away, I suspect the world would sober up quickly. No more big bad America on which to blame everything, but also no America to save their asses when the shit hits the fan, too. Oops.

  28. Trinker,

    I am not convinced the mood towards LDS in the U.S. is as rosy as even I’d like to sometimes think it is.

    Mitt Romney was the best man the Republicans had to go against Obama, and Mitt couldn’t even win his own primaries because the corn belt and the bible belt still have huge reservations about Mormons — old grudges dating back to the early 19th century, and because of current-day divisions on matters of Christian doctrine.

    Meanwhile, secular progressives have an easy time disliking and even hating LDS because of the LDS stance on a range of issues, such as homosexuality. In fact, the progressive hatred of Mormons and Mormonism can sometimes be even more vitriolic than that of the corn and bible belts, because secular progressives lump LDS in with Evangelical Christianity as the #1 most loathed and hated ideological and political foe in our new century.

    In both cases it doesn’t matter if Mormons never hurt a fly, people have deep, deep, deep ideological problems with LDS. And for whatever it’s worth, I’ve learned to live with that.

    So far as I am concerned, when most average Americans express reservations about Muslims or Islam, they’re not being racist or Islamophobic. They’re expressing reservations about an ideology contained within a religious tradition. Are liberal progressives who picket LDS temples Mormonphobes? Are they racist? Or are they simply engaged in ideological conflict with an ideology they consider harmful? I’d wager it’s the third option.

    But our conversation — at least in Science Fiction circles, which tend to run to the progressive side — doesn’t permit similar discussion of Islamic ideology without it becoming Islamophobia, racism, etc. Hence my assertion that Americans haven’t had — can’t have? — an honest conversation about Islam. Too many people are spending too much time overcompensating — due to societal baggage about past poor treatment of immigrants and non-whites.

    At this point in the science fiction conversation — which has been going on since the 1920s — words like “bigot” and “racist” have become thoroughly washed out and watered down. These days one can be accused of these things through a ‘reading of the tea leaves’ wherein a person’s fiction or on-line posts can be creatively parsed and interpreted to mean any number of nasty and malicious things. Based on what I’ve read on the track-back to your own LiveJournal post, such ‘tea leaf reading’ is already happening — as it regards my defense of Moon; who has been declared indefensible.

    If anyone is stuck in a catch-22, it would seem to be Moon. Who has been character assassinated as racist and Islamophobic for the act of expressing an opinion — and a darned mild one at that. I have no doubt that park51 will proceed whether or not anyone objects. And I don’t think anyone involved in park51 should be shocked if many Americans consider it something of a poke in the eye.

  29. In both cases it doesn’t matter if Mormons never hurt a fly, people have deep, deep, deep ideological problems with LDS. And for whatever it’s worth, I’ve learned to live with that.

    I object to Orson Scott Card’s beliefs that people like me shouldn’t have nice things like equal human and civil rights. I have said so quite often. I have difficulty reading his books as a result of how I now see how his beliefs inform his fiction.

    I do not believe that Mormons throughout the world should lose their rights to religious freedom merely because some Mormons have taken part in worse things that campaigning against equality and human rights: torturing gay teenagers to try to electroshock them straight, etc.

    No religion is good or evil. How a person acts towards other people, and how they encourage other people to act and feel, is dependent on their character: their religion may be used as a justification for the evil they do, but it’s not the source of it.

    And it still surprises me that you’re willing to condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few, where I suspect you would object if I came by your blog and insisted you engage with me on denial of marriage to same-sex couples because I know all Mormons take the Card position….

  30. (sigh) I am beginning to feel like a broken record. Neither Elizabeth Moon nor myself have ever said we want Muslims around the world to lose their religious freedom. I’m not sure why you think this, nor am I sure why you assert it. Seems like you’re putting words in my mouth — and not for the first time, either. I do not condemn all Muslims. But I do reserve the right to have reservations about blindly ignoring the ideology contained within the religion, or perhaps the nastier absolutist ideologies within the broader ideology contained within the religion.

    The West can pretend that al-Qaedists aren’t Muslim and that somehow — magically — they’re not acting in accordance with Islam. Having read the Qran, spoken about the issues with Muslims, supped with Muslims, and researched the history of things like Wahhabism, I can only conclude that Islamists such as al-Qaeda are indeed acting according to their religion. They have not only a scriptural basis for their actions — I have read the passages in the Qran, and must take these passages at face value — but they also have religious leaders in many parts of the world exhorting them to action. When you have a) religious leaders exhorting a people to action and b) scriptural basis for that action…?

    Muslims in the United States — citizens — have the right to equal protection under the law. I’ve said it before, and as a uniformed member of the U.S. Armed Services I am oath-bound to protect such things. That doesn’t mean I am oath-bound to turn a blind eye to loss of life or a pernicious discourse of absolutism and death-cultishness that slithers quietly through the Islamic mainstream. Nidal Malik Hasan did not materialize from thin air, independent of his religious faith. Nor did Faisal Shahzad. And until the intellectual West is willing to grapple with this pernicious discourse — as opposed to turning a blind eye, in the name of cultural relativism — I believe we’ll continue to see periodic outbreaks of Muslim violence in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.

    Ideologies — especially religious ideologies — which inspire violence and bloodshed in our 21st century Western societies should be challenged in the intellectual marketplace. Alas, liberal progressives seem far more willing to challenge certain religious ideologies, compared to others. If Islam were a “white anglo” faith like Christian Evangelism, I am 100% certain it would be getting the same level of intellectual combat that Christian Evangelists get from progressives. Because progressives correctly recognize Christian Evangelism — in the United States anyway — as an ideological foe. So they fight it. In the marketplace of ideas. In the courts. Sometimes on the streets.

    But because Islam is neither a “white” nor an “anglo” faith, the same people who scorn and ridicule Evangelists, rush to embrace Muslims — who have ideological compatability with Evangelist doctrine at upwards of 80%.

    When this uneven distribution of scrutiny and scorn is rectified, come back and talk to me.

  31. Brad, I’m disappointed with your response to this issue. Not to your determination to keep your opinion; that’s everyone’s right. But you’re becoming insulting with your comment about Moore and, by implication, anyone who enjoys or admires him, and especially by your refusal to address historical facts. The history of the US is not saintly in any sense of the word. It is worth asking why anyone is hated, and “envy” is not an adequate explanation. Support of the Nakba, an apartheid state, and the deaths of half a million children with harsh sanctions are.

    When the US empire fades, we won’t be missed any more than Rome or Persia were missed. Some rich people will long for the power that they had under the empire. The rest will go on with their lives, telling stories of the price they paid so another nation could be rich.

    There are many American values that I love. But too many people who profess the same values don’t realize or care that they cannot be taught with guns, bombs, or torture.

  32. Neither Elizabeth Moon nor myself have ever said we want Muslims around the world to lose their religious freedom.

    What Elizabeth Moon said, with regard to Muslims in the United States, was “But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they’ve had.”

    Akbar Bolourchi, who lives in LA, saw Flight 175 crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center on TV. His wife, Touri, was on board that plane. Touri had just celebrated her 69th birthday and she and Akbar hadtheir 42nd wedding anniversary. The Bolourchis immigrated to the US from Iran with their two daughters Neda and Roya in 1979: they were, said the CNN story where I read about them, a family equally proud of their Muslim faith and their US citizenship.

    Talat and Saleem Hamdani had immigrated to the US from Pakistan in 1979. Their son Mohammad Salman was 23, 13 months old when he came to the US: he was a research assistant at Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part time. In March 2002, the remains of his body was recovered from the debris near the foot of the North Tower: he had evidently seen the flames on his way into work on the morning of September 11 and gone to do what he could to help, and died for it.

    Now Elizabeth Moon thinks (and you think this is “darned mild”) that Akbar, Neda, and Roya Bolourchi, Talat and Saleem Hamdani, and Mohammad’s younger brothers (who were born in the US, but who are apparently in Moon’s eyes still “immigrants”), should feel grateful for the “forbearance” they’ve received.

    Do you suppose Talat and Saleem Hamdani will regard it as a “poke in the eye” that three blocks from where their son died, a community centre is being built that will include two floors of prayer rooms?

    You want – Elizabeth Moon wants – to make the Hamdanis and the Bolourchis feel that their grief, their pain, is not as worthy as the grief and pain that is felt by Americans who are not Muslim. Elizabeth Moon apparently feels that although she lost neither mother, spouse, nor child in the WTC, her feelings ought to be regarded as of more concern that the feelings of Muslims who did lose close kin in the attacks.

    Could Elizabeth Moon look Talat Hamdani in the face and tell her “I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let you believe stuff that unfitted your son for citizenship, on the grounds of your personal freedom.” (In what way was Mohammad Salam Hamdani “unfit for citizenship”, Brad? You seem to think this is a “mild” comment.)

    Could Elizabeth Moon look Akbar Bolourchi in the face and tell him “It would be helpful to have you understand what you’re demanding of me and others–how much more you’re asking than giving?” (Is it really a “poke in the eye” for Bolourchi to be able to walk three blocks from where his wife died and find a Muslim community centre with a place for him to pray with his fellow Muslims?)

    That attitude that Moon expresses, that you endorse, that’s religious discrimination. Multiply that up by a dozen or more – I think there were at least 27 people identified as Muslim who were killed in the attack on the WTC. Multiply that up by a million or so, for all the American Muslims who, like Elizabeth Moon, weren’t there and didn’t lose anyone close to them: why are their feelings less deserving of respect that Moon’s, just because they’re Muslims?

    It may be mild religious discrimination. But it’s still a step in that poisonous direction away from religious freedom and towards the stifling belief that one religion is better than another, one religion’s adherents are more worthy than another.
    Don’t tell me it’s because these are “good Muslims”. Elizabeth Moon, and you seem to agree with her, are making sweeping demands that all Muslims – including, therefore, the families and friends of those who lost loved ones at Ground Zero – shall be grateful to Americans who are not Muslims for “forbearance”.

    Religious freedom should not be a matter for forbearance. It should be a basic right for which no one has to feel “grateful”.

  33. Yonmei, please stop putting words in my mouth. Moon hasn’t said any of what you claim she’s said, and I’ve not said any of that either. Nor have I even come close to implying it. If you need for me to be “wrong” on this, you’re unlikely to be swayed by any argument I put forward in my defense. Your paradigm is not my paradigm, and that’s okay. The world goes on. I said before I wouldn’t be here anymore to participate in conversation with you on this subject, and I think it’s time for me to stick to my promise.

  34. Moon hasn’t said any of what you claim she’s said, and I’ve not said any of that either. Nor have I even come close to implying it.

    I’m quoting what Moon said, and you’ve said it was “darned mild”: I’m just applying what Moon said for all American Muslims, to individual American Muslims. Moon herself said that the deaths of Muslims in the WTC and on the planes was “immaterial”: it’s absolutely and explicitly her view that Salam Hamdani’s death at the foot of the North Tower doesn’t mean that Hamdani’s parents deserve the same respect in their feelings about 9/11 as she herself does.

    If you don’t like what Moon said when it’s pointed out to you that she’s saying it about Akbar, Neda, and Roya Bolourchi, about Talat and Saleem Hamdani, about Feroze and Nisha Khan… well, maybe you shouldn’t have endorsed it in the first place.

  35. Yes, I am an admirer of Howard Zinn. Do note that he gets his facts right. The people who complain about him do so with remarkably fact-free diatribes. I value truth above ideology. I realize many people do not subscribe to this principle.

  36. I’ve been trying to find an exact count of the Muslim victims of 9/11. So far, the numbers range from 23 to 28. But one site makes an important observation: “The Pew Muslim American study estimated that Muslims constituted 0.6 percent of the American adult population. So the percentage of 9/11 victims who were Muslims is very similar to the percentage of Americans who are Muslims.” The quote was using the 23 figure, and the same site noted later that 28 appears to be the more accurate number, so the percentage of 9/11 victims who were Muslims may exceed the percentage of Americans who are Muslim.

  37. To me, Moore is the Left’s version of Limbaugh. As much as I disagree with Zinn’s glass-half-empty picture of America, Zinn was at least a scholar. Moore is all the rage and bluster of the Left with none of the brains.

  38. Brad –

    Mormons are getting picketed because they stuck their money and their noses into California to fund Prop 8. Until then, all the internal Mormon doctrine wasn’t perceived as affecting non-Mormons. If Mormons are hated by people who are pro-universal civil rights, regardless of sexual orientation, it’s because they’ve gone beyond pulpit doctrine and into funding electoral hate-campaigns. And this is not something coming from *fringe* Mormons, this is coming from Salt Lake.

    No one is picketing Unitarian Universalists or the UCC for actions being fomented by the Southern Baptists. And this is the vital difference. You and Ms. Moon, and those who agree with you, lump all Muslims together with the Wahabbis. This is like claiming Quakers carry the same hate-rhetoric as Lou Phelps. In classing Sufi interfaith activists and secularized Muslims with the far fringe, and steadfastly refusing their efforts (and the efforts of many others) to clarify that distance, you do the Wahabbi terrorists work for them. This becomes a war between Islam and the West, instead of a joint effort of secularized Muslims, moderates, and other non-fanatical members of that community to eradicated their lunatic fringe.

    It is possible to cherrypick verses from many religions to find hate. One can also find love. Religious practitioners find their inspiration in the verses that speak to them. One finds Christian warriors, and Christian pacifists. Do you really believe that Islam is a religion only of war?

  39. I was reading about Abu Ghraib this morning and wondered how many people blame all Americans for what a few did there. I do think ungrateful Americans are lucky that the world has given them so much forbearance.

  40. Trinker, based on what I’ve read at your LiveJournal due to pingback, it would appear we’re not going to agree on much of anything. We could go back and forth 20 more times and I am sure we’d never reach a point of consensus. This isn’t a conversation anymore.

  41. Brad, I’ve been polite here. If you had to judge me solely by my words here, you’d have nothing to object to. I wish you’d judge me on that basis.

    Yeah, there’s venting in my journal. That’s part of what it’s for. I don’t agree with what you’ve said about Islam, because I think you’ve got your facts wrong. Correcting errors is polite in fandom, and I’m basing my interaction with you on that philosophy.

    Your space, your rules. Enjoy.

  42. First, there is a big difference between Catholicism and Islam: Catholics have one giant bureaucracy, the Catholic Church, that is in charge of the religion. Islam, by comparison, does not. Nor does Judaism, for that matter.

    When it comes to Catholics, I see some bad apples. They are individuals and they do not tar the entire Church. When the bureaucracy of the Church attempts to enable and cover up felonious criminal activity, then the Church is at fault and that does have the potential of tarring the entire religion, just like you calling tech support and getting an ignorant and rude tech, or several of them in a row, might make you think an entire company is nasty.

    Muslims have, in recent years, seen waves of anti-Islamic bigotry that have made it tough for many of them to peacefully live their lives. This has been driven by fear-mongers who are putting peaceful citizens in the same category as criminals for no reason other than them sharing some religious values and a religion’s name.

    As a liberal – yes, I am a liberal in both classic and modern sense – I do not castigate an entire faith unless the leaders of the faith promulgate ideas and actions worthy of castigation. Usually it is reserved for the individuals that perform violence and the groups that spawned the violence without later denouncing it. The only groups I speak out against are fundamentalist, as they promote fear, violence and societal breakdown.

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