A Change of Heart on Bigotry

As a reminder, the views and style of this blog post do not necessarily represent those of Chris or other NPS panelists Walker, Chelsea, and Serah, or any of the organizations with which they affiliate. -Vlad

I’m not sure what it was exactly. Maybe it was Dave Silverman’s (so) brave defense of our free speech, or possibly this recent subway ad reminding me of how civilized I was. Whereas yesterday I might have been tempted to roll my eyes at such casual bigotry, noting how absurd it is to judge the religious identities of 1.6 billion people based on such a small minority, today was different. I realized that, at heart, my blatant Islamic accommodationism was political and feel-goody. I wasn’t brave enough to use my twitter account to make fun of one of the most discriminated against religious minorities in the US (and many other parts of the world).

But then I decided to look at the facts. And the picture from the facts is clear.

Islam must be barbaric because no other group would riot over something so trivial as a poorly made YouTube film. The fact that, just last year, Canada rioted over ice hockey and England rioted over literally nothing doesn’t count. This more recent example of a riot in the Netherlands that broke out over a birthday event on Facebook doesn’t count, either. Because we’re not being bigots here. These are just the facts.

And the fact is that no other group could possibly do something like blow themselves up or pilot a plane on a suicide mission. It would never happen without that Islamic bit about the virgins and that other nonsense. The fact that the Tamil Tigers, the nationalist group which basically pioneered the modern suicide attack, made up the majority of suicide bombings between 1980 and 2000 doesn’t count. And the fact that most scholars think that suicide attacks have social motivations independent of religion doesn’t really count, either. Because we’re looking at the facts here. And the fact is that Islam is responsible and I’m not a bigot. Besides, everyone always forgets about all those Islamic missionaries sent to Japan pre World War II.

It’s even more clear that modern Muslim violence is caused by Islam. Two of the countries with the largest Muslim populations in the world, Indonesia and India, might both be democracies without much terrorism or anything, but everyone knows that only the countries in the Middle East matter. The fact that terrorism is pretty much centralized there, and not to other areas of Muslim concentration, doesn’t suggest that the violence is rooted in politics, sociology, or economic circumstances (as The Crommunist has so fallaciously argued, with no nuance or eloquence whatsoever). Because that might be construed as ignoring reality to support my preconceived biases that Islam is to blame. Which would clearly be bigoted and we aren’t being bigots here, remember. We’re just looking at the facts.

That’s because the reality is that in situations like these, when the Middle East sparks up with violence, no moderate or “peaceful” Muslims (if such creatures exist) are speaking out. You might accuse me of ignoring the very many examples of exactly this happening, like Libyan counter-protesters pushing out violent militias from Benghazi. Those accusations would be unfounded, however, because I can’t possibly be ignoring evidence that contradict my beliefs because, as we’ve already established, I am being rational here and just looking at the facts. And rationally looking at the facts leaves no room for bigotry whatsoever.

But the actions most damning of Islam are the calls against free speech in light of the anti-Islam video that sparked this entire controversy. This clearly goes to show how flimsy Islam is as a religion; unable to stand in the free marketplace of ideas on its own merit, it needs to quell dissenting speech to protect itself. One might point out that a scroll though the Wikipedia page on freedom of speech by country might suggest that relatively pure freedom of speech is actually pretty limited to liberal democracies. But countries like China or Singapore or Ireland don’t really fit into my anti-Islamic narrative. And since only facts fit in my not-at-all bigoted way of interpreting current events, those can’t be real facts.

So if you see me or anyone else calling Islam shitty, barbaric, or savage in the coming days, weeks, months, or decades, remember: it’s not bigotry. It comes from a fair and reasoned look at the world. This is a serious issue that we should be treating seriously, so I stand with Dave Silverman, the American Atheists, and their not at all flippant treatment of the complexities of modern Islam. It’s far more convincing than the position put forward by those softies at the American Humanist Association, which isn’t at all calm, humane, and measured.

So I’ve decided that Islam is barbaric; how could a rational person ever come to a different conclusion?

Vlad Chituc is a lab manager and research assistant in a social neuroscience lab at Duke University. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was the president of the campus branch of the Secular Student Alliance, where he tried to be smarter about religion and drink PBR, only occasionally at the same time. He cares about morality and thinks philosophy is important. He is also someone that you can follow on twitter. 

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