Yesterday Crisis Magazine, an excellent free Catholic online daily, published an extraordinary article about the way in which it has becoming politically incorrect to criticize Islam, or even to reveal the truth about Islam.
Excerpts from the text of this article are in black and red below. My comments, the few that are necessary, are in blue.
Bishops, Bigots, and Ben Affleck, by William Kilpatrick
**"An exchange about Islam that took place recently **on Real Time with Bill Maher helps to crystallize what’s wrong with many discussions about Islam and terrorism. Maher and fellow atheist Sam Harris took one side of the debate. Actor Ben Affleck, columnist Nicholas Kristof, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele took the other………
**Maher made the point that liberals, if they are to be consistent, must criticize Islam’s illiberal principles. Harris said, “We have to be able to criticize bad ideas. And Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.”
Affleck did not respond in kind. His remarks were along the lines of “It’s gross! It’s racist,” and “Jesus! It’s an ugly thing to say.”………
In defense of their criticism of Islam, Maher and Harris produced a number of statistics, including polls showing that a majority of Muslims in various countries supported the harsher aspects of sharia law. And Affleck and Kristof? They produced the race card, the emotion card, and the moral superiority card. They didn’t have any arguments, but they did have feelings and fashionable attitudes.
For example, it’s fashionable to call people racists when you disagree with them, but in this case race was completely irrelevant to the topic at hand………**
Affleck and company preferred to think of Muslims as victims of discrimination. What kind of discrimination? Maher and Harris said nothing disparaging about Muslims per se, and they weren’t denying the right of Muslims to vote or sit at lunch counters. **What then? By conflating all Muslims with Islamic beliefs, Affleck was, in effect, positing a new civil right—the right not to have your beliefs criticized.
It’s not actually a new idea. This new civil right—freedom from criticism—has been on the drawing boards for a long while.** For more than a decade, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation has been pushing the UN to create laws that would criminalize the defamation of a prophet. The campaign seems to be bearing fruit. Just recently, a street preacher in Taunton, England was charged with “religious aggravation” for comparing Muhammad unfavorably with Jesus. In a similar case in Austria two years ago, Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was found guilty and fined for having pointed out in a seminar that Muhammad led a less-than-perfect life. She was charged with “denigration of an officially recognized religion.”
**What the UK preacher and Sabaditsch-Wolff had to say about Muhammad was entirely factual, but in the brave new age of emotional sensitivity, truth is no defense against charges of bigotry……
That we want to arrest such people rather than hail them attests to the low level of discourse about Islam in Western societies. The big civil rights story of our time is the unjust treatment accorded to women, children, and minorities in Muslim societies. But to point to it is to court charges of bigotry, racism, and Islamophobia…… **
This nostalgia for past struggles seems to characterize a good many Catholic leaders as well. Times have changed, but many bishops seem to live mentally in the days when Christian clerics marched arm-in-arm with civil rights leaders. Consequently, they tend to be suckers for any kind of civil rights pitch. **Islamic leaders understand this mindset, and it’s no coincidence that Muslim activist groups in America frame their own causes as civil rights issues. ……
The idea of being part of the latest civil rights movement has great appeal to the many Christians who see the pursuit of social justice as their main mission. Nowadays, the main issue of concern to the Muslim “civil rights” groups is Islamophobia.** Technically, that term means an irrational fear of Islam but in reality, **any criticism of Islam, whether rational or irrational, will put you on the Islamophobe list. In effect, the campaign against Islamophobia is really a demand that Islam be free from criticism…….
That’s the one lesson? That we have to guard against bigotry? How about guarding against Islamist groups that are inspired by Islamic theology? But, as Bishop Madden assures his readers, Islamic violence has nothing to do with Islam—“the religion many people automatically (and wrongly) blame for this violence.”
It’s one thing for Ben Affleck to cry “racist” against critics of Islam on an infotainment talk show. It’s another thing altogether when bishops resort to the same tactics. We have a right to expect more—especially from those who are involved in the very serious business of understanding and accurately explaining other religions".** William Kilpatrick
Somehow this reminds me of our President stating that ISIS, (or ISIL if you absolutely insist) is ‘NOT Islamic’.
First of all, I doubt that it needs to be stated here that Affleck is an uber-liberal (politically). I have seen the highlights of that exchange on Maher’s program several times now. It was pretty easy to see that Affleck had no compelling arguments. His comment that Harris’s (valid) criticism of Islam was “racist” was actually an intellectually cowardly way to tamp down the discussion.
It would have been much more interesting and it would have been much more intellectually honest if Affleck would simply have admitted the validity of Maher’s and Harris’s point of view, or possibly at least their right to hold their opinions.
May God Bless Us All, Topper