View Single Post
Old 08.01.2018, 16:33
TobiasM's Avatar
TobiasM TobiasM is offline
Forum Veteran
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Zürich
Posts: 1,263
Groaned at 183 Times in 131 Posts
Thanked 2,771 Times in 1,281 Posts
TobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond repute
Re: All about Muslims (in the wake of terrorist attacks in Europe)

Further to my last post, regarding Johann Hari's article, I think it's time to clarify my position for those who haven't quite understood (yes, TobiasM, I'm looking at you).

I've been interested in Islam since long before it was fashionable. I am by no means a scholar, but I've read several books on the subject, both critical and hilariously biased, by "progressive" Muslims, "conservative" Muslims, sympathetic non-Muslims and furious anti-Muslims, over several years.

I used to know a lot of Muslims, too. Because I was perceived as being sympathetic to their cause (which I was, to be fair), I was treated to conversations a little deeper than the usual dinner party fare. Some opinions I heard were excessively liberal even to my agnostic ears (a drunken session with a Sufi in Istanbul springs to mind), whereas others were quite shocking even to my socially conservative ears (I heard that homosexuals should be put to death way more often that I've previously cared to admit. But hey, I'm not gay and everyone's entitled to her opinion, eh?). I encountered racism, bigotry, wisdom and clarity of thought in various measures and degrees. But, you know, it's a free country and we're all entitled to be wrong. Also, as a social conservative, I didn't always disagree with what they had to say, even if they were sometimes a bit extreme in their conclusions and suggested solutions.

If you scroll through the early part of this thread, you'll see that up until last summer, I always argued in defence of Muslims. I figured that much "islamophobia" was simply a respectable front for racism, that Muslims are scapegoats (which, let's be frank, they often are), that they needed defending. I gradually fell out of love with Islam as an ideology, but as Loz1983 has quite rightly pointed out several times: Islam and Muslims are not the same thing.

Then Charlottesville and a number of Islamist attacks happened. I don't want to rehash what I said back then - it's all on EF somewhere - but to summarise, I realised that I - and lots of people like me - were utter hypocrites. I was quick to chant that the only good Nazi was a dead Nazi, or that people who kept quiet or showed ambivalence towards white supremacy were a bunch of amoral enablers... but somehow, when it came to ideologically inspired pedestrian murderers of a different stripe, well, then, no, not all Muslims, etc etc...

Troubled by this sudden realisation that I'd been a Useful Idiot for the previous twenty years, I started to rethink my position. Actually, there is a problem with Islam in Europe. Actually, this has little to do with terrorism, but quite a lot to do with a mismatch between modern liberal culture and a profoundly conservative, somewhat alien culture. Actually, most Muslims are perfectly decent people to share a coffee with. Actually, quite a lot of Muslims hold opinions that would make Owen Jones throw up - but they don't always share them with non-Muslims for the same reason that most socially conservative people watch their tongues these days. Actually, Muslims are big boys and girls. Actually, Muslims don't need well-meaning dickheads like me to speak up for them - especially those who are trying their best to quell the rising bullshit amongst their communities.

The conversation needs to be had. Whether Islam is a nasty ideology is a matter of opinion. That Islam is an expansionist - and often aggressive - ideology is a plain fact. That Islam is fundamentally incompatible with modern liberal notions of diversity, tolerance and democracy - well, that's also a matter of opinion, but you only need to take a few minutes to read any serious theological work by Muslim scholars to see that it's a stitch up job at best. When Islamic activists drove the prostitutes out of a Birmingham suburb back in the eighties, I'm sure the local conservatives weren't too upset - but how does that tickle your liberal fancies?

But we can't have the conversation, because as soon as anybody dares show anything other than unwavering support for Islam and Muslims, he's a bigot. It happened to me last summer. It's happening to other members here, too. Ambivalence has no place in our new 'tolerant' world. Hey, as long as we all keep our religions to ourselves, it's cool, right? And everyone agrees with that, right? Right? Right?

Yeah, just keep saying that. Thunder against baptist bigots and presbyterian homophobes, but, well, it's not our place to tell other people what to believe. Who wants a samosa? Don't I look pretty in my sari?

Come on, people. I have good friends who are marxists, but it doesn't stop me from appraising marxism with a critical eye. Why should religions - any religions - be exempt from criticism?
Thanks for going to the effort to write all of that for me, I am truly flattered and I am happy for you, that have found your true opinion on the matter, it must be a lovely feeling to have no more moments of anguished procrastination, no more doubts that you are helping a losing liberal cause, just your awakening, a realisation that what you believe to be true is, and just is. Good on yer fella. A few years in Switzerland achieved something for you then. But I didn't need the explanation frankly, it is your personal epiphany and it doesn't mean anything to me.

I do agree that religions should be subject to the upmost criticism, but criticism and challenging a belief is something other then constant posts here, stereotyping people and communities from many different walks of life, backgrounds and countries, and labelling them as extremists, terrorists or sexual predators. Just my pennies worth. I feel suitably disliked for challenging those views, but as I have said before, I am not that bothered.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank TobiasM for this useful post: