I recently had a conversation with a friend, who happens to be a lawyer. It went something like this:
Me: [argues that the Ground Zero mosque should not be built].
Friend: You are a bigot.
Me: Objection! Counsel can’t answer my arguments, so she resorts to ad hominem abuse!
Friend: I don’t have to listen to your arguments. You have no credibility because you are a bigot.
Yesterday, Eugene Robinson began his syndicated column by calling opposition to the mosque “Lies, distortions, jingoism, xenophobia…”. Then he conjured up the demons of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. End of story — it’s all a bunch of Republican political opportunism.
So this is the level of discourse we’ve reached on this subject!
It may be a waste of time in today’s overheated atmosphere, but I’m going to try to explain exactly how I’m ‘bigoted’. You can decide whether I’m more or less the same as the guys who burn crosses and desecrate graves.
Although I find the principles of Sharia which hold that there is an essential difference in the rights due to men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims, repugnant — I do not therefore hate Muslims.
Although many of the suras in the Quran apparently call for Muslims to be violent and hateful, I do not judge Muslims on the basis of this. The book dates from the Seventh Century, and there is plenty of unpleasant stuff in the Bible, too.
Here’s the problem: Islam’s holy writings lend themselves to an interpretation which includes an ideology and an expansionist political program, a program which calls upon Muslims to expand the lands under Islamic control by violence, subversion or both. While not all Muslims subscribe to this interpretation, it is by no means marginal. There is a struggle today in the Islamic world between this kind of radical Islamism — represented by the Iranian regime on the Shia side and the Muslim Brotherhood among Sunnis — and more conservative forms of Islam.
Barry Rubin and others explain that radical Islamism is no less a legitimate interpretation than less aggressive ones. It does not represent a ‘hijacking’ of some ‘real’ version of Islam, which is warm and fuzzy (this appears to be President Obama’s point of view). It is a competing interpretation, and one which has made major gains in the Muslim world in the past sixty years or so. There is reason to worry that it is rapidly becoming the dominant, normative form of Islam today.
This is the version of Islam which holds that an infidel has three options: conversion, submission or death. This is the version of Islam which inspired the Hamas Covenant. And its ideological component has no counterpart in any other major religion today. It pretty much corners the market on intolerance and bigotry.
Note that radical Islamists believe that it is honorable to deceive infidels in time of war (and they believe that they are at war with the West). So one can be excused for some degree of suspicion directed at someone like the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has refused to condemn Hamas. That’s sort of a litmus test, in my opinion — one which organizations like CAIR, ISNA, etc. regularly fail, by the way.
So there you are. I am opposed to an ideological and political program that is considered the true interpretation of Islam by many Muslims, including some who claim to be ‘moderate’. I am concerned that this program is promoted by violent terrorism, by subversion and a combination of both. I see it as a real and present threat — to Israel, to Europe and to America.
Anyone who can explain how this makes me a ‘bigot’ is invited to do so.