Islam, Sharia Law, and Paranoia

Drawing the line between rational criticism of reactionary Islam and paranoid bigotry
Opinion • Views: 21,468

Here’s an excellent post at ScienceBlogs by Ed Brayton, on his view of Islam and Sharia Law. I could have written this myself; I agree with every word.

Let me first state the obvious: Radical Islam — which probably should be called reactionary Islam instead — is the single most dangerous and malevolent ideology on the planet today. Any ideology that contains the idea that one is justified in killing those who disagree with us or who “insult” — i.e. criticize — our views is fundamentally dangerous from the very start.

Reactionary Islam is opposed to every core value I hold — liberty, equality, decency, rationality. It is anti-science and anti-reason. It is fundamentally barbaric in its treatment of women, sexual minorities, infidels, heretics and apostates (which happen to be some of my favorite kinds of people).

I’ll go further: Anyone who thinks that God tells them to kill people for being apostates or unbelievers is a barbarian, and quite likely insane. Anyone who thinks it is okay to kill those who criticize their religion is a barbarian, and quite likely insane. Anyone who thinks that it is okay to beat women for being disobedient or stone someone for being gay is evil in a way that I will never comprehend.

And no, I do not think that modern Christianity, even at its worst, is anywhere near the threat that Islam is. Yes, there are Christian Reconstructionists with their own dangerous — and remarkably similar — ideology. But they are a tiny fringe with little power. Meanwhile there are whole nations like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that enforce the most barbaric aspects of Islamic law.

I am the last person on Earth that wants to see anything like Islamic law imposed anywhere, for the obvious reason that my head would be among the first on the chopping block after such a system was established. As someone who has reprinted the Danish cartoons and has defended victims of reactionary Islam like Salman Rushdie, I do not take such possibilities as an idle threat.

But here’s the thing. None of what I said above logically leads one to conclude either that all Muslims believe in such barbarism or that America is on the verge — or even, in our wildest dystopic imaginations, could be on the verge — of being taken over by Muslim radicals who will impose Sharia law on us. Nor does it logically flow from anything I’ve said above that Muslims in this country are suddenly no longer covered by either statutory or constitutional protections of their equal rights.

This is why I mock those who insist that there are no moderate or reasonable Muslims in the world — because I actually know some of them. The morning that the Prop 8 ruling came down a few months ago overturning the anti-gay law in California, the first phone call I got celebrating that fact was from a Muslim friend.

Read the whole thing…

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