Penn Jillette Denounces “Islamophobia” While Defending Fair Criticism of Islam

In a new video for Big Think, Penn Jillette defends criticism of Islam while denouncing “Islamophobia” — or at least the fear of Muslims.

Not only should we not worry about them, he says, we should be helping them, because they have it really rough right now. If we call ourselves defenders of the First Amendment (or, you know, just decent people), we should be fighting on behalf of the religiously downtrodden, not further oppressing them.

PennBigThinkIslam

You’re not allowed to hate people for their ideas. It’s the wrong word. It’s just the wrong word. We have to be more careful. Islamophobia is not racism. Saying anything against Muslims is.

You can say Christianity is wrong and have friends who are Christians. You can show full respect for Christians. You’re not Christianityaphobic, you know. You’re just saying no, I have a different idea. That’s what America is. And I believe my feelings as an atheist change somewhat when that man speaks to me because of my heart.

Yes, Islam is wrong. Yes, Christianity is wrong. Yes, Judaism is wrong. I believe that like I believe I breathe. I don’t doubt that ever. But right now, Muslims, those who believe in Islam, really need our help. There’s refugees who are suffering in a way that history will not be kind to us for ignoring that. We must love them. We just embrace them. We must help them. Even if they believe things that we know are wrong.

The chances of a terrorist believing in Islam are pretty good. The chances of someone who believes in Islam being a terrorist are very, very bad. Very little chance of that.

The full transcript and speech can be found here.

(via Big Think)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.