Humanist Fellowship of San Diego Message Board › CJ Werleman says "How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Chr

CJ Werleman says "How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists"

A former member
Post #: 118
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How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists

Atheists shouldn't be singing from the same song sheet as the Christian Right.

Politics is a funny game, for wedge issues often make for strange bedfellows. NSA overreach unites the far left with the far right. Libertarianism unites neo-confederates with black evangelicals. If you’re looking for an even stranger ideological matrimony, try this one on for size: mention the Middle East peace talks, and voila, you have atheists singing from the same song sheet as the Christian Right.

...

Despite claims by David Silverman, president of the 501(c4) political lobby group American Atheists, atheism does not earn an atheist the title of freethinker. With very few exceptions, movement atheists are not. They’re parrots. Don’t believe me? Ask an atheist to opine on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and he or she will invariably wax lyrical about religious motivated violence, Islamic extremism and suicide bombers. In other words, expect a recital from atheist luminaries Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.

“Islam is an unmitigated evil,” said Dawkins in response to whether or not atheists should support faith-based NGOs in Africa, while simultaneously ignoring the despotic warlords Western secular governments have financed in recent times. On his blog, Sam Harris asks why “nineteen well-educated, middle-class men trade their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors?” With total disregard for geopolitical history, what troubles Muslims living in the Middle East, and studies into global terrorism, Harris answers, “Because they believed that they would go straight to Paradise for doing so.”

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No doubt, Harris (neuroscience) and Dawkins (evolutionary biology) are leaders in their respective fields. What they’re not is experts on terrorism and the Middle East. So movement atheism needs to stop pretending like they are, because the words of Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens serve only to make movement atheists sound like neo-conservatives, Zionists and the Christian Right, which ultimately makes seeking peace even harder to attain.

A dangerous and toxic belief found within movement atheism is utopian idealism—the belief that the eradication of religious human beings will cleanse the world. If history has taught us anything, it’s that bad things inevitably follow when large segments of the population share that belief. On that point, Harris and Dawkins are every bit as dangerous as the thugs of Israel’s conservative Likud Party. “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them,” writes Harris in reference to Islam. He suggests that Islamic nations may be politically un-reformable because Muslims are “utterly deranged by their religious faith,” and that all Muslims are effectively suicide bombers in waiting.

Chris Hedges, who not only spent a decade as a New York Times correspondent in the Middle East, but was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of global terrorism, writes, “The dehumanization of Muslims in U.S. social culture and the willful ignorance of the traditions and culture of the Islamic world reflect our nation’s disdain for self-reflection and self-examination. They allow us to exult in the illusion of our moral and cultural superiority.”

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Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, found that almost without exception, suicide bombers are members of communities that feel humiliated by an occupying force. In fact, of all suicide bombing campaigns, 95 percent were carried out with the objective of driving out an occupying power. This was true in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Kashmir, as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories. That 17 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis seems to underscore Pape’s findings.

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Former Princeton University law professor Richard Falk, who is Jewish, recently condemned the collective punishment of Palestinians as a “crime against humanity,” and a “flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law as laid down in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

What the Nazis were to the Jewish population of Warsaw is what the Israeli government is to the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. “It is an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive in terms of their health,” says Falk. Of the ongoing Israeli blockade, he writes:

"This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that forty-six percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live.”

Israel punishes Gaza with daily 12-hour power outages, blocks medical equipment and medications from entering the territory, forcibly removes Palestinian farmers from their land without compensation, and has now erected a barrier that has annexed at least 40,000 acres of Palestinian land. Life in Gaza is so grim that “families are piled in boxy, concrete rooms capped with corrugated tin roofs weighed down by rocks. Water and electricity service work only sporadically…donkey carts crowd the streets, and orange garbage bins, donated by the European Union, overflow with putrid heaps of refuse,” observes Hedges.

Faced with occupation, humiliation, starvation, misery, and death, is it any wonder that 71 percent of children interviewed at a school in Gaza said they wanted to be martyrs?

Harris, Dawkins and many of their atheist sycophants, contend, however, that these children are “utterly deranged by their religious faith.” Movement atheists can choose either to adopt this ill-informed and breathtakingly ignorant narrative of the Middle East, in turn continuing to be an obstacle for the attainment of peace, or they can question the authority of their ideological heroes, and in turn, adopt the narrative of those who truly know what they’re talking about.

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CJ Werleman is the author of "Crucifying America," and "God Hates You. Hate Him Back." Follow him on Twitter:@cjwerleman
A former member
Post #: 41
Thanks, Michael, for posting this for discussion on CJs viewpoint. If I understand his point correctly, he would disagree with me if I held that Islam is the underlying reason for many terrorist acts and the desire for theocratic, Islamic states.

For relevant examples, I would cite the kidnapping of the nearly 300 teenage girls in Nigeria for marriage and slavery and the boycott of the Beverly Hills hotels owned by Brunei that recently instituted Sharia law. Although we have our own separate issues with it, we don’t see Christian attempts to justify these actions. So, on these topics at least I seem strange bedfellows allied against these two examples of Islamist Terrorists and Islamism.

My reasoning doesn’t involve Idealistic Utopianism. Instead, I find it reasonable that at least the New Testament and 400 years of internecine conflicts have broadened Christian views to these basic issues which Islam has not yet experienced.
Ed S.
user 105793922
San Diego, CA
Post #: 7
My view is that the Enlightenment, which included thinkers such as Voltaire, Hume and many others, partially defanged Christianity after very bloody warfare between Catholics and Protestants in the 1500s and 1600s. However, the Islamic world has not been affected by anything comparable to the Enlightenment and therefore, is more dangerous.
A former member
Post #: 138
Hi, Chris:
I think your point is well-taken if one is arguing the point that the religious aspects of Islam has nothing to do with the violence we see almost nightly on the news. However, I think Werleman is making the larger point that economics, oppression, and the like are the more insidious factors underlying the violence and mayhem, not theology per se.

To use your example, Muslims aren't the only ones kidnapping young girls and boys. It is happening here in America and throughout most of the "civilized" world. Prima facie, for different reasons, but the kidnappers justify their actions under a variety of motives.

I think we can attribute the Muslim problem to two major factors. One you already suggested: They are still living in the Middle Ages culturally in many respects, I think (although I am no Medieval scholar). Secondly, as Werleman mentions: Political and economic unrest and oppression.

Although I am a dyed-in-the-wool Humanist, I truly believe that the beasts that lurk inside us all are covered only by the thinnest veneer of civilization. We are only a couple of meals short of devolving into "that primal creature we once called 'man'". So I, for one, am not surprised that some Muslims are lashing out. That doesn't justify what they do and to whom they are doing it. Too often, the harm falls on the innocent bystander (in the micro sense of the word).

The West could go far in solving many of these problems by not supporting dictatorships and by dealing fairly with the peoples of the various Middle Eastern countries. Unfortunately, they are in possession of something the West desperately needs to control, so I don't see that happening anytime soon. Do you?
Taylor
delataylor
Oceanside, CA
Post #: 209
Chris is right on track here. For some reason, CJ and Michael seem to forget while making these arguments of the dogmatic and superstitious Islamic beliefs that command and influence Muslims to do certain things. As Ed pointed out, Christianity was brought thru an enlightenment and Islam has had no such transformation. In the Western World, your very typical Christian has never even read the Bible and if you bring up any of the foul commandments found within, your average response is going to be how they are some sort of loving Jesus follower (despite Jesus having his own foul things to say and support). Further, those that want to and/or try to go back to the commandments and prescriptions found in the Bible are met with an overwhelming amount of push-back (on most things). They may want to discriminate against the LGBTQ community for instance, but they aren't getting the government to have them murdered (as commanded in the Bible, right after not eating shrimp and wearing clothing woven of two different fabrics). Sharia Law, to mention only one obvious evil that has zero to do with poverty and everything to do with Islamic belief, allows for slavery, wife beating, severely torturing and often killing people for drinking (at all), gambling (in the slightest), adultery, loving another of the same sex, etc; and these actions are being carried out by some of these countries and their governments. It prescribes an "eye for an eye" type of punishment for many crimes. Most Muslims believe even in the West that women are property, should not be seen, and most certainly should not be educated. Women are both separate and unequal in even Western mosques, filled with wealthy Muslims, in the Democratic U.S.

If you think you are going to fix anything in these cultures (in anything other than a shockingly temporary period of time), without first radically reducing the hold and power that the dogmatic beliefs found in Islam have over these people, you are living in a dream. If you think that it's only bad government, mistreatment by international corporations and governments, poverty, etc. that causes this; why are other countries in similar situations not doing the same? Before all of these ills fell upon these cultures/nations, were they treating each other and those around them (specifically those of different beliefs) with respect, tolerance, equality, and all around humanism? No, they were doing the same barbaric things that we are all afraid of and despise now.

Does poverty help the situation? No, I readily admit it is fuel on the fire. Does evil governing, and abuse from international governments and corporations help? God no, it certainly adds fuel to the fire. Are all Muslims willing to commit the evils found in their religious beliefs? Absolutely not, Muslim humans have no different capacity for intelligence and morality than any other human. However, to pretend that dogmatic beliefs are not at the root and/or the most powerful factor in many of these evils is nonsense. To pretend that Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and other "movement" atheists are not aware of the other problems is to ignore everything they say. To pretend that these same atheists don't also want the governmental and corporate corruptions in these areas is equally nonsense. To think that these atheists don't want more education and less poverty in these areas is asinine. To think that they don't have a point though when they say that the dogmatic and worse, superstitious beliefs, that are found in Islam are not a problem is damagingly ignorant.

Dogmatic beliefs are some of the most dangerous forces that has ever inflicted humanity and superstitious ones are doubly so. These sorts of beliefs will stop or radically decrease rational governance, scientific literacy and progression, the spread and acceptance of modern medicine, proper education, safe and equal social policies, etc. They will also radically increase and often introduce amazingly immoral behavior and actions.

Superstitious thinking is a problem. Dogmatic beliefs are a problem. Islam, is in fact a problem, all by itself. Those that speak out against these problems, are not a problem. Those that try to educate people and raise awareness of such ills, are not a problem. Those that try and show how smart they are, by trying to argue against the likes of Dr. Dawkins, Dr. Harris, and the Hitch, are wasting precious time and certainly not convincing me of their superiority. Now, CJ is very intelligent and does much good. I'm personally a huge fan and feel he is needed. Michael... does much good. <G> However, if CJ wants to argue that Harris doesn't, Dawkins doesn't, and/or Hitchens didn't know anything about the history and current state of affairs in Islamic cultures, he couldn't be more mistaken. If he wants to argue that Islam is not a problem when it comes to terrorism, I fear he's only pretending to do so to make a bigger name for himself or a certain point; and doing so in a foul way.
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