13 May 2015

Pam Geller and Charlie Hebdo rock

Stephen Kershnar
Islam: False and Destructive
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
May 10, 2015

Recent events have made it luminously clear that Islam is a savage religion.

On May 3rd, two Muslim gunmen were shot and killed while trying to attack a Prophet Muhammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. The cartoon competition was sponsored by Pam Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and was held in honor of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Earlier this year, Muslim gunmen forced their way in the headquarters of a magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and killed 12 people, including five cartoonists, for Muhammed cartoons. The gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) and “the Prophet is avenged.” In 2004, another Muslim expressed his displeasure at Theo Van Gogh’s movie, which criticized Muslim treatment of women, by shooting Van Gogh and then trying to cut off his head. In 1988, the Supreme Leader of Iran issued a credible death threat against novelist Salman Rushdie because he didn’t like Rushdie’s book.

The May 3rd attack is small potatoes compared to other Muslim attacks in the U.S. included the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers (3 dead 264 wounded), 2009 Fort Hood Shooting (13 dead, more than 30 wounded, “Allahu akbar” yelled), 9-11 (2996 dead), 1993 World Trade Center Bombing (6 dead and more than a 1,000 injured), and numerous other failed attempts. Of course, this is par for the course as the iconic slaughter of Israeli Olympic athletes was later replaced with bloody attacks on a Bali nightclub, Moscow Theater, London Subway, Madrid Train, U.S Embassies in Kenya and Libya, and so on.  

A religion is best viewed as the practices that comprise it. The independence of religious practices from the religion’s text and history can be seen in the way in which we would judge Hasidim and Mormons. Hasidic Jews’ lifestyles have a loose connection to the Old Testament and to how ancient Jews lived. The same is true for Mormons who have doctrines, practices, and a prophet that would be barely recognizable to Jesus-era Christians. If we were judging Hasidic Judaism or Mormonism, we would judge them by what they say and do, not by what their sacred texts say or their self-serving propaganda.

Judged by their practices, the Muslim religion is a juggernaut destroying freedom and lives as it rolls on. Most Muslim countries have little respect for freedom of speech, religion, association, or other features of the general right to be left alone. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim world is unfriendly to capitalism.

On the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, only three minor Muslim countries are listed as economically free or mostly free (Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar). Far too many Muslim people suffer from bloody civil wars in some Muslim countries and harsh government crackdowns in others.     

A significant percentage of Muslim countries have no democracy or democracy only within the confines of religious control. Consider, for example, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Muslim majority countries that are democratic (for example, Turkey) have done so only because they keep a boot on the neck of the Muslim religion.

The Muslim treatment is women is a breathtaking disgrace with, depending on the country, hindrances to education, mandatory covering of the body, forced marriage, rules restricting driving and being alone with unrelated men, and genital mutilation.  

Not only is the Muslim religion destructive, it’s false. Not only do Muslims have to defend theism, the case for which is at best weak, they also have to defend the notion that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were prophets, also dubious. They have to further provide evidence that Muhammed (with his long history of war and bloodletting) was a prophet and that the Koran is the word of God. Given a plausible reading of the Koran, they likely have to go still further and show that God actually wants apostates destroyed, Jews and Christians subjugated and made to pay a special tax, women’s travel, dress, and education sharply restricted, and gays prevented from having sex. The chance of all of these doctrines (theism, prophets, Koran, and harsh policies) being true is infinitesimally small. Geller’s and Charlie Hebdo’s courageous satire shines a light on this false-and-destructive way of life. 

Nor will these things change soon. Writing in The Huffington Post, Alon Ben-Meir points out that in the Arab world, the majority of intellectuals operate within the tight confines of the Muslim religion (for example, clerics and imams) and thus a robust internal challenge to religious ideas and oppression will likely not be coming anytime soon. This a far cry from the Western intellectual tradition, which is and was studded with thinkers who together demolished the case for authoritarian governments and coerced religion and did so centuries ago. 

Publicly acknowledging that Islam is a savage religion will inform policy decisions. First, this will lead us to be skeptical about allowing large numbers of Muslim immigrants into the U.S. as we don’t want to import the same problems that plague France. This is a shame given that many Muslims are incredibly smart, disciplined, and good people, but, unfortunately for them, their destructive brethren are too costly and we’re not good at filtering them out.      

Second, there should be serious political penalties for pouring American blood and treasure into the Middle East. Bush and Obama and anyone who supported their foreign adventurism (for example, Hillary Clinton and John McCain) should be kicked to the curb. Consider how much better off we’d be if we avoided the Bushs’ Iraq and Afghanistan wars and avoided Obama’s  wars on Libya and ISIS, his incessant drone strikes across the Muslim world, and his meddling in Egypt and Syria.  

Third, there should be a ferocious defense of the right of free speech. The attacks on Pam Geller for her cartoon contests about Muhammed are disgusting because the Muslim religion is false and destructive and satire makes this brilliantly clear.

Pam Geller and Charlie Hebdo, you make us proud.

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