I started writing this post hoping to craft an argument that Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a Somali-born atheist (formerly Muslim), a former member of the Dutch Parliament, a screenwriter threatened with assassination for helpng Theo van Gogh (who was assassinated) criticize Islam’s treatment of women, a feminist critic of Islam who has won acclaim across the political spectrum in the US and Europe – ought to avoid testifying in forthcoming hearings on Islamic terrorism out of enlightened self-interest. The hearings have never been about anything but attacking Muslims in America, continuing the crusade against the Murfreesboro mosque and the lower Manhattan Muslim community center (not at Ground Zero, not a mosque), and committee chairman King is a widely-reviled bigot.

I wanted to observe that the noted feminist would be speaking at the behest of an opponent of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I wanted to argue that committee chairman Rep Peter King (R-NY) was a torture advocate, self-described as “most fervent fan” of the civil liberties-choking Patriot Act, and was so friendly to the IRA before they foreswore violence that he proudly called himself “the Ollie North of Ireland.” He told Politico in 2007: “We have – unfortunately – too many mosques in this country,” and surely she wouldn’t want to be associated with his regressive, repressive, illiberal agenda!

I wanted to say that no one who had survived the horrors of Somalia, who had been through enormous difficulties in escaping an arranged marriage and immigrating to a western democracy could want to support the reactionary, repressive, anti-immigrant buffoon who would be inviting her to testify. However nuanced and thoughtful her opposition to Islam, I wanted to argue, Hirsi Ali’s words would be twisted by the committee and by press coverage and used to justify scapegoating moderate American Muslims, including those who have helped foil terrorist plots (which King denies ever happens). I wanted to push back against Think Progress’s description of her as a reactionary on par with King.

I wanted to echo Christopher Hitchens’ summary of her views, and to say that Rep. King would not be interested in promoting this message:

Hirsi Ali calls for a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected but where the law does not—in the name of some pseudo-tolerance—permit genital mutilation, “honor” killing, and forced marriage.

I wanted to say that King’s agenda is a monomaniacal crusade against Muslims, ignoring terrorist attacks like the bomb detected before detonation at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade, the Glen Beck-inspired kooks who have launched multiple murderous attacks, anti-abortion terrorism, the attack on Rep. Giffords, Oklahoma City, the “Minutemen” vigilantes, and other decidedly non-Muslim terrorists. I wanted to say that Hirsi Ali would not possibly support such a distraction from real terrorist threats, and I wanted to note that someone who has lived in the US for longer, and has more experience with violent extremists here, would be a more effective messenger in that effort to broaden the hearing’s scope. I wanted to respect her as much as many of my favorite bloggers seem to do.

Alas, I made the mistake of researching Hirsi Ali before posting, and my lines about her nuanced and sophisticated take on the situation, my attempts to see the best in her view, were consistently foiled by her actual words. I simply cannot say that Hirsi Ali’s views would be twisted to match King’s, because I think they are already aligned.

Here, for instance, is an interview with libertarian magazine Reason‘s Rogier van Bakel:

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times? Slavery in the United States ended in part because of opposition by prominent church members and the communities they galvanized. The Polish Catholic Church helped defeat the Jaruzelski puppet regime. Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?

Hirsi Ali
: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.

Reason
: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali
: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.

Reason
: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali
: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Reason
: Militarily?

Hirsi Ali
: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

(All emphasis original.)

I don’t claim to fully understand the path she’s describing, in which Islam is defeated – all of it (but not really the peaceful moderate part that apparently doesn’t exist) – then some part that wasn’t entirely defeated comes back to reform Islam’s legacy. It’s weird and self-contradictory, but let’s ascribe this to the difficulty of laying out complex ideas on the fly. Regardless of details, though, her message is clear: Islam must be defeated, crushed, with muscle, with the military, as an idea, and in the minds and bodies of 1.5 billion Muslims.

We’ve talked a bit about violent rhetoric lately, and I have a hard time seeing how the already threatened Muslim populations in the US are going to be safer when – in a House committee with CSPAN cameras and other media crowded around – a woman who looks like part of their community says that Islam is America’s enemy, that it must be “crushed,” that “you” (America? Americans?) must “flex your muscles” and “you” say “this is a warning” to Islam and to all Muslims. I think a lot of American Muslims already see their neighbors flexing muscles at them and giving these sorts of ill-defined threats. I can only see harm to my friends and neighbors coming from such rhetoric, and I’m sure it’s exactly what Peter King will want to hear.

I think he’ll also want to hear her reactionary views on civil liberties:

Hirsi Ali: The Egyptian dictatorship would not allow many radical imams to preach in Cairo, but they’re free to preach in giant mosques in London. Why do we allow it?

Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?

Hirsi Ali: No. Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools.

Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. …

Reason: Well, your proposal went against Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution, which guarantees that religious movements may teach children in religious schools and says the government must pay for this if minimum standards are met. So it couldn’t be done. Would you in fact advocate that again?

Hirsi Ali: Oh, yeah.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago – ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Every reactionary movement and every anti-democratic demagogue through history has made claims like “we have to destroy the Constitution to save it” or “we must restrict civil liberties to preserve them.” And yeah, that includes Rep. King, as it includes his hero “Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy. I cannot take seriously anyone who would argue with a straight face: “Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties.” It’s the very archetypical attack on civil liberties!

Like Hitchens, I wanted to believe Hirsi Ali just wants “a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected,” but she doesn’t. She wants a pluralistic democracy where opinions like her own are protected, and that’s a problem, because then it stops being a democracy, and it isn’t pluralistic. Her right to get up and speak in Washington can only exist when a radical imam can speak freely down the street. I wanted to believe her claim that she is not against Muslim people, but against Islam – especially against Islam as a political movement. I don’t believe that any more. Maybe she and King deserve each other.

Similarly, I wanted to believe that Hirsi Ali would not wish to lend her support to Peter King’s anti-immigrant agenda, since she herself has seen how hard it is to get refuge in the West from repressive regimes, and she shows how much an immigrant can achieve under such circumstances. And yet I find that she worked with a reactionary, anti-Muslim Dutch politician to restrict immigration from the Muslim world, and continues to advocate for restrictions on immigration.

I wanted to see the good in her that so many liberal secularists do, but I can’t.

I think she and Rep. Peter King deserve each other.

Comments

  1. #1 razib
    January 21, 2011

    josh, one point, i don’t think there’s any contradiction in a democracy being illiberal. that was an an ancient and early modern criticism of populist democracy, that the mob would behave in a tyrannical manner against minorities. i understand that in the colloquial the distinction between a republic and democracy in its pure form has been blurred, but it exists.

  2. #2 Josh Rosenau
    January 21, 2011

    Razib: Yes, Athenian democracy existed without the level of free speech we now associate with democracies and republics (as did the Roman republic), but there’s an argument to be made that you can’t have a system where everyone really has an equal role in a democracy unless you also have the guarantees of classical liberalism.

  3. #3 John Lynch
    January 21, 2011

    Nice post that presents plenty to think about if we are not just going to adopt knee-jerk sanctification of secular heroes.

    (And I’ve just realized that this is the first comment I’ve left at Sb since I left in May ’09).

  4. #4 sui sen
    January 22, 2011

    I am actually preparing myself and my family for the outcome of this radicalization hearing. Although the vast majority of Americans are peace-loving people and believers in a pluralistic society where culture, religions and skin colors are not big issues nevertheless I am preparing for the worse. If one man can kill people in Arizona for a very vague reason, how much easier it would be to target Muslims who are already victims of discriminations in a society where Islam-hating is fast becoming an acceptable behaviour.

    We are just so glad that there are still sane people like you are defending our rights to live in the country of our birth, USA, that we love even more than those who hate us.

    But still I am afraid for myself and my family…

  5. #5 sui sen
    January 22, 2011

    I am actually preparing myself and my family for the outcome of this radicalization hearing. Although the vast majority of Americans are peace-loving people and believers in a pluralistic society where culture, religions and skin colors are not big issues nevertheless I am preparing for the worse. If one man can kill people in Arizona for a very vague reason, how much easier it would be to target Muslims who are already victims of discriminations in a society where Islam-hating is fast becoming an acceptable behaviour.

    We are just so glad that there are still sane people like you are defending our rights to live in the country of our birth, USA, that we love even more than those who hate us.

    But still I am afraid for myself and my family…

  6. #6 Phillip IV
    January 22, 2011

    Her right to get up and speak in Washington can only exist when a radical imam can speak freely down the street.

    [citation needed]

    Her right to get up and speak seems to be doing alright in a place like Germany, where the right of radical imams to speak freely is restricted by a stipulation prohibiting speech “aimed at the overthrow of the democratic order and the constitution”.

    A stipulation put in place, as you can probably well imagine, in view of the experience with Nazism. I don’t think it’s an insensible stipulation – do you really feel it casts Germany out of the circle of liberal democracies?

  7. #7 James Hrynyshyn
    January 22, 2011

    Always distressing to learn that a heroic figure isn’t quite as heroic as we had hoped. Thanks for the dose of reality. Good post.

  8. #8 Rick in PV
    January 22, 2011

    Scripturally, historically and culturally, Islam is a violent, supremacist faith. And the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

  9. #9 Hammill
    January 22, 2011

    She wants a pluralistic democracy where opinions like her own are protected, and that’s a problem, because then it stops being a democracy, and it isn’t pluralistic.

    Bravo. Thanks for pointing all of this out; I knew Hirsi Ali was rather radical but not to the point of what these interviews say.

    I have many Muslim friends that are very much outspokenly against radicalist sects of their faith. By Hirsi Ali’s opinion, am I supposed to be “at war” with them and try to crush them because they share vague similarities in religious tenets with our true enemies? IMO Hirsi Ali isn’t at war with violent religious extremists; she’s at war with religion and is using extremism as her foothold to go after the whole thing. The problem is that, rationally, that stance has no logical footing.

  10. #10 Rob Knop
    January 22, 2011

    I don’t know if this is statistically true… but certainly you can find examples of “born-again” Christians, who used to be something else but converted later in life, being more fervent and other-hating than the average.

    Here is an example that shows the same thing can happen to atheists.

  11. #11 Rob Knop
    January 22, 2011

    Scripturally, historically and culturally, Islam is a violent, supremacist faith.

    Rich in PV — you realize, of course, that exactly the same thing can be said about Christianity….

  12. #12 Josh Rosenau
    January 22, 2011

    Philip: Since you broached the example of Nazism, shall I cite the unfortunate consequences following the Nuremberg laws and their restrictions on a specific religious groups? No, let’s try to steer clear of Godwin territory a little longer.

    Does anyone really believe that a restriction of First Amendment religious liberties would be narrowly targeted at Islam, and not sweep in atheism, too?

    If you want a citation on the dangers of overly broad bans on seditious speech (as in your example) look up the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 – which was used to attack anti-Federalist newspapers (Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas looked back on them without fondness: “The Alien and Sedition Laws constituted one of our sorriest chapters; and I had thought we had done with them forever.”), and the Sedition Act of 1918 – which was used to repress political enemies of the government (including Eugene Debs and labor organizers).

    I think Germany’s restrictions on speech are problematic for its status as a liberal democracy. The US manages just fine without banning Civil War symbols, and I think German society is strong enough to shout down racist, fascist, Holocaust denying, and other unpleasant or hateful speech without imposing legal restrictions.

  13. #13 Porlock Junior
    January 22, 2011

    Thanks for digging this up. Pretty appalling.

    But it has one bright side: It raises my respect for Reason mag. Almost, it doesn’t even matter whether or not the interviewer really means it; few people have the understanding and will power to represent the oppostion’s views that well.

  14. #14 Phillip IV
    January 22, 2011

    Josh Rosenau @ #12:

    I think Germany’s restrictions on speech are problematic for its status as a liberal democracy. The US manages just fine without banning Civil War symbols, and I think German society is strong enough

    I don’t consider them unproblematic, either, but I can see where the framers of the German constitution were coming from. Given how many of them had themselves suffered political persecution under an authoritarian regime that rose from the collapse of an undermined democracy, I have to believe they were sincere in their dedication to democracy and civil liberties and yet still felt that certain safeguards were necessary.

    I’m not saying they were right, I just wanted to point out that there is a legitimate disagreement to be had here, and that this isn’t a clear conservative/authoritarian vs. liberal/democratic issue.

    I also appreciate your trust in the strength of German society, but how do you see the issue if you feel that a given western society is not strong enough to resist a determined attempt at undermining it – would it still be better off with unlimited free speech, in your opinion? (And, by the way, my real worries in that regard have nothing to do with Muslims)

  15. #15 Paolo
    January 22, 2011

    what is scientific about lying, lefty?

  16. #16 Anon.
    January 22, 2011

    You began this article hoping to craft a specific argument, likely because you just don’t like what Hirsi Ali said and find it uncomfortable to deal with. You did not show that you considered the possibility that Hirsi Ali’s observation that Islam, as it stands, must be defeated (crushed) and/or reformed.

    Instead of first doing research and providing facts to the contrary, you appear to have employed innuendo and cherry-picked quotes to bolster your existing bias.

    There are currently many detailed, cross references sites by Muslim apostates and reformers who are in agreement with what Hirsi Ali says. (ie: thereligionofpeace.com , koran.blogspot.com )

    In contrast to the prophet of Islam, there is no record of other major prophets (ie: Jesus, Buddha) having personally murdered hundreds of non believers or that they had sex with a child. Islam considers this disturbing behaviour an example to be followed as shown here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OZ3s0BcSxs

    The fact that the majority of Muslims do not act upon the vilest doctrines of their religion suggests that Muslims are not inherently better or worse that any othe group of believers. If fundamentally radical members of Christianity had the law or such scripture on their side, we’d be in conflict with them instead.

    Defeating Islam as it stands does not mean defeating Muslims who choose not to promote or practice violence as a means to control the flock or impose their system on others. It does mean strongly opposing violent Islamists and those who support them or give them tacit approval. It also means pressuring truly peace loving Muslims to take a stand against violence and to support those who already are trying to reform Islam.

  17. #17 Deepak Shetty
    January 22, 2011

    while I would agree that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has gone further and further to the right (but I can understand why) – the topic of faith schools isn’t as straightforward as you think it is. Madrassas aren’t necessarily in addition to your schooling as say Sunday schools would be – they are sometimes replacements and if you have seen what happens to some kids perhaps you too would want some stricter regulation.

  18. #18 Josh Rosenau
    January 22, 2011

    Anon: You’ve badly misread my original post, for reasons and in ways I cannot fully understand.

    I did not begin this post disliking what Hirsi Ali says. Indeed, I think she brings an important perspective to the discussion about the status of Islam in global society. Rep. King’s hearings are not a place where that discussion will take place (he will focus on demonizing Muslims), so I was initially inclined to think Hirsi Ali would do her own cause and her own message more harm than good by appearing in those hearings.

    My post is not about Islam. It’s about liberalism, and Hirsi Ali’s unfortunate stance against liberal democracy.

    You claim I used innuendo and cherry-picked quotes, but I say I quoted her at length, facing a questioner posing exactly the questions I’d be asking, and you can see for yourself just how illiberal her views really are. I linked to the full interview, and you can see that I didn’t cherry-pick, I simply let her explain herself fully.

    I happen to agree with John Lynch’s and James Hrynshyn assessment of Hirsi Ali’s heroism, and I appreciate her critiques of Islam. But I do not and cannot appreciate or support her attempts at overthrowing our constitutional protections of religious practice (to borrow a phrase from Phillip IV, below).

  19. #19 Josh Rosenau
    January 22, 2011

    Deepak: I’m familiar with parochial schools, and they don’t change my point. To single out Islamic schools for restrictions beyond those faced by other religious groups is rank discrimination, illiberal, unjust. To forbid any religious group from operating a school wold deprive us of respectable and respected universities like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Brandeis, and even Brigham Young, not to mention some of the best high schools in the nation. And it doesn’t get around the religious discrimination problem.

  20. #20 Peter,
    January 23, 2011

    Islam is an ideology that violates every basic human right.
    There are many moderate, peace loving Muslims (most of them know hardly anything that it´s written in the Quran), but there is no moderate peaceful Islam (as it´s written in the Quran, Hadith; Mohammed was a mass murderer).
    Hirsi Ali is 100% right.
    As a European I can only hope that the US are waking up and get a realistic view about this ideology, which poses the greatest threat to freedom and democracy since Fascism and Communism.

  21. #21 Deepak Shetty
    January 23, 2011

    To single out Islamic schools for restrictions beyond those faced by other religious groups is rank discrimination, illiberal, unjust.

    So is your problem that she doesnt criticise other religious schools since you mention about singling out Islam , but in the next sentence you mention Notre Dame and so forth. All old schools will have a religious component , that doesn’t mean the religious affiliation is necessary today.
    I agree that outright banning a religious school is discrimination, is unjust but not having some laws over what the schools can and cannot do is unjust too (to the children who dont have any choice in the matter).

  22. #22 Deepak Shetty
    January 23, 2011

    I’m familiar with parochial schools, and they don’t change my point.

    Nah – don’t make this statement till you know some children personally who you have played with, who have been affected. When you see a 7 year old girl who is told she must fast for Ramzan and wear the veil then your perspectives change.
    Again I don’t think banning is an answer – but letting the schools operate as they please isn’t either.

  23. #23 Josh Rosenau
    January 23, 2011

    Deepak: “don’t make this statement till you know some children personally who you have played with, who have been affected.”

    What makes you think I haven’t had all of those experiences?

  24. #24 Deepak Shetty
    January 23, 2011

    What makes you think I haven’t had all of those experiences?

    Oh I could be wrong. But I doubt you’d phrase your views as you do if you did have those experiences (again reading about someone or knowing a friends friend isnt the same).
    Have you?

  25. #25 anon.
    January 23, 2011

    You call Peter King a bigot. Wikipedia defines this as: “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.” This could be you as well.

    I found no reference to Mr. King as a bigot, except in his stance on Islam. He is not blessed with tact or poltical correctness. His criticisms, however, are consistent with those of Muslim apostates and reformers. He was considered a bigot for his opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, which some Muslims were also against:
    http://www.islamicpluralism.org/1624/ground-zero-mosque-really-about-pushing-shariah

    As a civil libertarian, you could be putting some attention on bigotry such as shown here.:
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Articles/Quran_Hate.htm

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali does not restrict herself to allies on the left or right. She seems to seek those who are willing to rock the boat of political correctness, like the murdered libertarian, Theo van Gogh.

  26. #26 Wael
    January 24, 2011

    As an Muslim Arab I’ve heard this same rhetoric before in Arabic from someone by the name of bin laden. The same ignorance, hate, and intolerance. I don’t know who would be more insulted by the comparison – bin laden or ali?

  27. #27 Josh Rosenau
    January 24, 2011

    Anon.: Peter King falsely claims that Muslims have not helped with counterterrorism efforts. He says that Muslims aren’t real Americans. He thinks there are “too many mosques.” That’s bigotry. And if the same false, prejudiced, bigoted claims are made by Muslim reformers and apostates, then it’s still bigotry.

  28. #28 anon.
    January 24, 2011

    I read and listened carefuly to your links (comment #26):
    re: Peter King falsely claims that Muslims have not helped with counterterrorism efforts.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/28/peter-king-muslim-cooperate/
    I found Sen. Kings quote on this site to be:
    “the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should”

    King quotes police officers as saying “there’s no cooperation” and follows with his own comment, “They try (to get cooperation) but hardly ever get it”. He also makes very positive statements about Muslims as individuals.

    re: Muslims are not real Americans:
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/11/king-muslims-american/
    King also does not simply say “Muslims are not real Americans”, but that Muslims do not behave as the rest of us when it comes to pulling together in wartime.

    I will paraphrase this conversation for brevity: The senator says that, when a war begins we’re all Americans despite ethnic differences. He says that this is not the same for the Muslim community that does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.

    I call this type of quoting cherry picking.

    In your main article you also quoted the phrase “too many mosques in the country “. This appears to be an incomplete phrase where Sen. King jumped from one thought to another.

    The interviewer did repeat that phrase, but the senator was obviously not listening and had moved on in his thoughts. This could have been a slick move by the interviewer.

    It appears to me that the phrase was taken out of context and I believe what the senator had to say about this. He seems outspoken enough to honestly say if he simply meant “too many mosques”.

    It seems more logical to me that he was about to say “too many mosques in the country sympathetic to radical Islam.” then jumped over to: “too many people sympathetic to radical Islam.”

    I think the senator is only guilty of cluttered articulation here. I would encourage anyone to listen for themselves.
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Rep_King_There_are_too_many_mosques_in_this_country_.html

    Although much of what Sen.King, Hirsi Ali and other critics of Islam say comes across as harsh, it must be proven false before it can be called bigotry. In my opinion, you have not done this.

  29. #29 Josh Rosenau
    January 24, 2011

    Anon.: First, King is a Representative, not a Senator. Repeatedly referring to him as a Senator when he is a Representative does not incline me to think your understanding of him exceeds my own.

    Second, I watched the video with the line about “too many mosques,” and I see him say it without taking a beat, and then I see the reporter repeat the line and give him a chance to correct himself, and then I see him let it stand. From this, I don’t see why you object to my quoting him accurately on what he clearly did say. Yes, he tried to walk it back days later, when it seemed embarrassing, but so what?

    Third, the relevant quote from your first link is where King claims that mainstream Muslims “do not come forward and denounce” and do not “officially cooperate with the police against those extremists and terrorists.” Which is hogwash. I provided links in the original post to evidence that Muslims do denounce terrorism and do cooperate with investigations. Most investigations involving Islamic terrorism are broken at least in part thanks to tips from Muslims. King is factually wrong to claim otherwise.

    Fourth, no, King does not put the “not real Americans” issue in those words, he just implies it. He says: “despite a person’s ethnic background or religious background, when a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation.” What other reading is plausible for that, other than that Muslims have not become “Americans” in this time of war? I stand by my reading, and provided a link above refuting it: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/483/muslim-americans

    American Muslims reject extremism, are well-assimilated, they are concerned about Islamic extremism, they oppose suicide bombings, they oppose al Qaeda. When asked whether they identify as Americans first or as Muslims first, about the same fraction say “Muslim” as say “Christian” when American Christians are asked that question. Most importantly, American Muslims tend to think that government actions (like those promoted by Rep. King) have made life harder for Muslims. Like the general public, American Muslims think government surveillance and counter-terrorism efforts single out Muslims for scrutiny, but the report explains: “only about half of the [general population] Americans who think Muslims are singled out (52%) say they are bothered a lot or some by this, compared with 74% of Muslim Americans.” To the extent that Muslims feel isolated and unhelpful towards law enforcement, that might be a better explanation than the bigoted argument King makes.

  30. #30 Marion Delgado
    January 25, 2011

    It also doesn’t help that she’s quite the little liar, does it?

    Look up what she’s said about her life and background and what the truth has turned out to be.

  31. #31 Umar
    January 25, 2011

    Representative King’s argument doesn’t hold water for one single reason.

    He’s asking people that have no knowledge of crimes to go to the police and “cooperate.”

    A part of any criminal investigation is to find out who knew what, when. If Muslim leaders had a part in the terrorism acts of the past 10 years (or had knowledge), a greater number of Imams or mosque leaders would be sitting behind bars right now. This was the case with the Brooklyn Imam that tipped off the Colorado terrorist (names escape me). The FBI was well within its right to arrest and charge the Imam- there was no outcry from the Muslim population over this act.

  32. #32 Ena
    January 25, 2011

    The way you have written this is very clear and well put. I agree with what you say about Ayaan, I have read the book “Infidel” I found it fascinating, but at times (other than the description of the genital mutilation) it did make me wince. The problems I had were mainly in passages toward the end of her book. Ayaan wanted a lot of the immigration rights to be taken away from the society that helped her escape from what she found to be a warped and non progressive, dictatorial culture, based around Islam. I am inclined to agree with her about Islamic Schools. I don’t think Religion should be taught as a fact, because however much you believe it to be true, it is not founded in evidence, but of course in faith, therefore it is not factual and should not be taught as such. I believe that people should have the right to their spiritual beliefs and that it is very important to exercise a Society of tolerance and freedom of speech and of expression. I think people should be taught about Religion, as Religion exists and is highly relevant to Human Life. That, however, is very different from using the concept of a Creator to explain life, the universe and basically everything.

    I feel that Islam should be allowed to be criticised as any other unjust and/or offensive movement would be. I am not persuaded that because something is tagged with the title “Religion” it should not, for some reason, be criticised. I see many political parties with racist or fascist agendas and I will speak and express my opinions opposing what I see as unjust. If I do that with an oppressive political party, why would I not speak against a “Religion” that says that anyone that does not believe in God (according to the said Religion) deserves to be tortured for eternity? If you decide to be a part of the Movement, then you support the view, that no matter how good the person is, if they don’t follow what you do, they deserve something so terrible. Using that argument and the fact that anyone who calls them self “Muslim” has to agree completely with everything written in the Quran, so Muslims, in that way, are expressing that all, who call themselves Muslim, are of one opinion – that being that everything in the Quran is right and to be followed without questioning and with complete agreement with what is said in the book. You can see a major problem with Islam, it teaches to judge a person not based on how good they are but how Muslim they are, and the difference between good and bad, and Muslim and Non-Muslim are vastly different. Being Muslim does not, of course mean you are bad. You can be good or bad and be Muslim. You can be good or bad and be Non-Muslim. It is completely irrelevant to your worth.

    Extremism, arrogance, and being unable to accept criticism of what is, by any definition, your personal opinion and a choice, is what needs to be addressed. It’s at this point that Totalitarianism comes into play, and I would hope that most people could see that this is something very dangerous for Mankind.

    I could carry on for a long time with this. I enjoyed reading your article!

  33. #33 ummabdulla
    January 25, 2011

    As an American Muslim woman convert, I had heard a lot about Ayaan Hirsi Ali (from Western sources – no one in the Muslim world seemed to know about her,) and I always knew I didn’t agree with her. Given her position and the respect she had from so many, though, I assumed she must be sharp and persuasive. The first time I actually saw a televised interview with her (on CNN or something), I was amazed to see that she was not at all impressive. She became the darling of certain people simply for being Somali + a woman + ranting against Islam.

    She certainly doesn’t speak for Muslim women – not only is she not Muslim, but she’s atheist.

    And yes, she’s quite a liar.

  34. #34 Miles
    January 25, 2011

    As far as I can tell, Ayaan’s most egregious lies were in service of her and her sister’s escape from loveless marriages in an repressive land. If that makes her a liar, then her accusers are character assassins.

    As for her authoritarian reaction to Islam in the West, I can’t help but wonder if limiting free speech, perhaps by giving the authorities the power to warn first and then fine people for making baseless claims in public or on public airwaves might be a good idea and teach the public the importance of conditional phrases – naturally this would cover religion and other woo.

    I don’t wonder for long of course, because the risk is far too high that the courts will just decide Christianity is the default position and anything to the contrary is a baseless. Which was of course the problem with authoritarianism all along: any limits on civil liberties can be all too easily perverted and given enough opportunities will be.

  35. #35 Miles
    January 25, 2011

    @Josh

    On the religion in schools issue, it does seem to me that no matter who your parents are you have a right to learn about the philosophical and political values of the Enlightenment and various important world religions without having any specific tradition forced upon them (except in science classes of course).

    Meaning religious schools are fine by me and could be staffed by all nuns and offer more optional courses on faith or something like that, so long as they don’t pressure the kids to pray or devote undue attention to one particular faith and leave all faith out of science class and maintain the same minimum curriculum standards of public schools. Not sure how religious they would be at that point, but does that sound reasonably liberal to you, Josh?

  36. #36 Saikat Biswas
    January 25, 2011

    @32 : She certainly doesn’t speak for individuals like you. And you certainly don’t speak for all Muslim women.

  37. #37 Nil
    January 25, 2011

    Excellent post!

    To Ena: Then that means we shouldn’t be teaching a lot of subjects in schools because many of them are based on conjecture, ex. evolution. Why single out faith? Your hate for Islam shows out through and through. You are a bigot.

    Josh, you’ve hit the nail, so the bigots are squirmin’ and nervous and tryin’ all their might to discredit your post. You hold firm. Its an excellent well-delivered accurate article.

    Take care and I look forward to your delivering more of equally well future posts! :)

  38. #38 Azzy
    January 25, 2011

    I remember years ago I used to give Ayaan the benefit of the doubt. I actually thought, despite her hatred of my religion, that she cared about Muslim women in countries like Somalia. However, nowadays it’s obvious she’s just an anti-Muslim bigot and a hypocrite, especially when it comes to her myopic view of human rights (I hope I’m not sounding too harsh, but unfortunately it’s true).

    http://www.loonwatch.com/

  39. #39 ummabdulla
    January 25, 2011

    @35: I don’t claim to speak for all Muslim women, but my views on her are widely shared by other Muslim women who have heard of her (including Somali women I know) – and why wouldn’t they be, since she has such contempt for us?

    The point is that she’s trotted out and given the podium to spew her garbage about women and Islam (in fact, that seems to be all she does) while actual Muslim women are rarely heard from.

  40. #40 Azzy
    January 25, 2011

    This is a website that fights anti-Muslim sentiment. It even had an online debate via posts with an Islamophobe and won. I highly recomend it for those interested.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/

  41. #41 anon (comments 15, 24, 27)
    January 25, 2011

    re: comment 28
    Any familiarity I have with you or King dates back only a few days and I wouldn’t have heard of either of you, but for your article. Despite that, my assessment is that your bumbling representative is much closer to being behind the eightbIall on the subject of Islamic threat than you are. I guess about the only things we’ll be able to agree on is that I errantly referred to Mr. King as a senator and that the majority of Muslims do not support terrorism.

  42. #42 Miles McCullough
    January 25, 2011

    Being an anti-Islamic bigot and caring about Muslim women is as compatible as being against owning slaves and caring about slaves is. In the U.S. Civil War many died, including some of those who would otherwise have been freed by the war. In the struggle for liberation there are casualties. At least I would guess that is how Ayaan thinks – buying into the mythos of war and liberation, but that’s neocons for you.

    I’m not convinced that authoritarian coercion is worth the risk from within, not by a long shot, nor that the conflict between religious and Enlightenment values will inevitably end in war. Voluntary integration encouraged by one law for all and secular schools and public institutions seems to me the preferable route.

  43. #43 Deepak Shetty
    January 25, 2011

    @Josh
    Your last comment to me implied something without you actually categorically stating it. Im waiting for a yes or no – Do you personally know someone (preferably a child) whose life has been messed up by social Islamic teachings (Presumably you will have some equivalent experience in Kansas that you are referring to but I doubt that violence would have been a part of that experience).
    Second do you think religious schools are a problem or not? If yes then what is your solution?

  44. #44 Saikat Biswas
    January 25, 2011

    @38: Her views on Islam are also shared by many women trying to escape the strangling, stultifying hold of Islam. What exactly makes your view of her views on your religion any more valid or worthy of serious consideration? That you are Muslim? That you are not atheist?

  45. #45 Josh Rosenau
    January 25, 2011

    Deepak: I had a friend growing up who fasted for Ramadan (as did his sisters). I don’t recall them wearing hijab or burqas, but I’ve chatted about both with women who choose to wear both.

    Those are the experiences you described. You didn’t describe violence or abuse, and I don’t know any Muslim children who had that experience. But that’s moving the goalposts.

    “Do you think religious schools are a problem?”

    I think it’s an error to lump all religious schools together. I do not think tit’s a problem that private religious schools exist. If schools are abusive (let’s define this in terms of doing things that would get a parent jailed for child abuse), then yeah, it’s a problem and the solution is prison time for abusers and loss of licensure/accreditation for the school. That’s without regard to the religiosity, though. I’d be more worried about abuses at private (secular) military academies.

  46. #46 laurent Weppe
    January 26, 2011

    @ Josh

    Does anyone really believe that a restriction of First Amendment religious liberties would be narrowly targeted at Islam, and not sweep in atheism, too?

    Well, I for one am actually quite certain that as atheism becomes more and more mainstream and openly “practiced” by members of the ruling class and the intellectual elite, the scenario where people opposed to religious liberties do not threaten atheists is becoming increasingly likely.

    In the current case of politicians attacking “Islam”, it is quite clear, especially in Europe, that “Islam” is too often used as a proxy to justify hostilty along ethnic and/or social lines. The goal is not much to criticize the religious dogma or the excesses of fundamentalism, but to provides a veneer of respectability to the contemptible political goals of the far-right.

    Of course, in Europe and the US, for a long time, far-right tyranny lovers have presented themselves as paragons of christianity; But, as Christianity is becoming less and less reliable as a tribal marker for the dominant class, with both Atheism and Secularism being on the rise while religion is slowly lossing ground, well, the incentive for the far-right to invoke Christianity is simply becoming increasingly weaker.

    So, soon (at least in very secular countries like France: the far-right is actually testing waters as we speak), we might see far-right politicians proposing laws and policies that would restrict the religious liberties of minorities while sparing atheists… as long as said atheists are white, wealthy, and supportive of the social status quo, of course.

  47. #47 ummabdulla
    January 26, 2011

    @43: Because her views on Islam are lies – just like her life story, which she used to gain asylum and even be elected to the Dutch parliament. When that lie was found out, she was going to be stripped of her citizenship and had to resign from the Parliament. She fled – where else? – to the U.S. and the arms of the American Enterprise Institute, where lying was not only OK but apparently prized, especially when it involved bashing Islam.

  48. #48 ummabdulla
    January 26, 2011

    @45: Interesting point, but I don’t think it’s accurate to describe the U.S. and Europe the same way, in terms of their identification with Christianity.

  49. #49 Saikat Biswas
    January 26, 2011

    @46 : So what exactly is the wonderful truth about Islam that is being deliberately distorted by her?

  50. #50 Marion Delgado
    January 26, 2011

    Those valid criticisms of Islam in general and in particular Hirsi Ali has made would simply come off better from someone less ethically compromised. Clearly, in evaluating her case politics are trumping objectivity. But focusing on her personality is not the point, either way. Nor is a false dichotomy where a Islam has to be either completely wonderful or completely evil – a very religious formulation that.

    This is wrong:

    As far as I can tell, Ayaan’s most egregious lies were in service of her and her sister’s escape from loveless marriages in an repressive land. If that makes her a liar, then her accusers are character assassins.

    This is correct:

    … lies – just like her life story, which she used to gain asylum and even be elected to the Dutch parliament. When that lie was found out, she was going to be stripped of her citizenship and had to resign from the Parliament. She fled – where else? – to the U.S. and the arms of the American Enterprise Institute, where lying was not only OK but apparently prized, especially when it involved bashing Islam.

    Beyond that, I hasten to point out – again – that people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens went along with the Bush administration and the neoconservatives completely in a policy of aggression against Third World nations with Islam as a proxy, recreating the Cold War as cynically as it was initially created, with Harris simply being a flunky for the Likud Party in Israel, pushing God-as-realtor in the name of atheism and secular values.

    A doctrine of subservience to power – neoconservative, military-industrial, or capitalist – does not a liberatory movement make.

  51. #51 peter
    January 26, 2011

    I would be interested why the author of this article, who according to his profile is a man of science, an evolutioniary biologist fighting creationism, totally ignores all facts when it comes to Islam and it´s ideology and legal system (sharia).
    Hirsi Ali is a hero, telling the truth about islam, while the author is living in a fantasy world, which is of course much more convenient than having to have bodyguards 24/7 for criticising the “religion of peace”.
    Her friend Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered but as an Evolutionary Biologist the author probably can explain why people who have the courage to tell the truth are so rare and those who ignore reality are so many (propably because their expectancy of life tends to be longer).

  52. #52 peter
    January 26, 2011

    I would be interested why the author of this article, who according to his profile is a man of science, an evolutioniary biologist fighting creationism, totally ignores all facts when it comes to Islam and it´s ideology and legal system (sharia).
    Hirsi Ali is a hero, telling the truth about islam, while the author is living in a fantasy world, which is of course much more convenient than having to have bodyguards 24/7 for criticising the “religion of peace”.
    Her friend Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered but as an Evolutionary Biologist the author probably can explain why people who have the courage to tell the truth are so rare and those who ignore reality are so many (propably because their expectancy of life tends to be longer).

  53. #53 tütüne son
    January 26, 2011

    Hirsi Ali is a hero, telling the truth about islam, while the author is living in a fantasy world, which is of course much more convenient than having to have bodyguards 24/7 for criticising the “religion of peace”.

  54. #54 Deepak Shetty
    January 26, 2011

    I think it’s an error to lump all religious schools together.

    But you can only have a uniform set of rules , right? so you would have to lump them together.

    I do not think tit’s a problem

    :D

    Let’s define this in terms of doing things that would get a parent jailed for child abuse

    Thats part of the problem isnt it? Take for example the Fundamentalist church of latter day saints. You wont get jailed for teaching your girl child that she is just a vessel for procreation or for conditioning her to accept being the 5th bride of some 50 year old man. You wont be jailed when the 50 yeal old husband practically rapes his 19 year old bride.
    The question is should this be prevented or not? Is this abuse or not? As the law stands it isn’t. The problem is what constitutes abuse. physical abuse is easy enough to detect – mental abuse not so much

  55. #55 Deepak Shetty
    January 26, 2011

    Marion Delgado
    Assuming that everything Hirsi Ali says is a lie , are you pretending that the events she describes dont actually happen in some Arabic countries?

  56. #56 Deepak Shetty
    January 26, 2011

    I had a friend growing up who fasted for Ramadan (as did his sisters).

    How old? Was force involved?

    I don’t recall them wearing hijab or burqas, but I’ve chatted about both with women who choose to wear both.

    Adults are different. You dont know what their views would have been had they been brought up differently.

    Those are the experiences you described. You didn’t describe violence or abuse, and I don’t know any Muslim children who had that experience. But that’s moving the goalposts.

    There isn’t a single event to describe – call it moving goalposts if you wish but I have had
    a. A 6 year old girl who used to play with me (i was 14) told to fast for ramazan forcibly not even because her parents believed it , but because the mullah of the mosque insisted. She was made to wear a burkha at 8. I have seen her cry but I was more “accomodationist” at that time. I regret now that I didnt say anything.
    b. I had a fairly moderate school friend aged about 15 who felt that Salman Rushdie should be kicked out of London so that he could be made to *pay* for his crimes.
    c. I had a girl my age, my neighbour who was prevented from going to college(with some force) at the age of 17 (while her brother who wasnt as smart continued). She was married at 19 to an older person.
    d. I had people I knew though not that well participate in some of the bombay riots from both religions.
    e. I had office colleagues describe how they have seen distributed DVD’s where people were told why pregnant women should be killed during the riots.
    So yeah you might have seen some cases in Kansas of the trouble with fundamentalist religion.

  57. #57 Josh Rosenau
    January 26, 2011

    I fail to see the relevance of your questions about how old my friend and I were (in New Jersey, not Kansas, FWIW). Your earlier posts said nothing about the use of force, which is why that part seems like goalpost moving.

    The use of violence is wrong. But it’s also wrong to equate Islam with the use of violence. It’s wrong to suggest that every child who participates in Ramadan is doing so because of threats. In my experience, and in the experience of many other Western Muslims, children do not attend mosques or participate in Ramadan because of threats of violence.

  58. #58 Saikat Biswas
    January 26, 2011

    @56 : “In my experience, and in the experience of many other Western Muslims, children do not attend mosques or participate in Ramadan because of threats of violence.”

    I wonder why. Surely not because Western Muslims do not abide by the Sharia, is it? Surely non-Western Muslims (or more specifically Muslims in Islamic countries) never face threats of violence for not observing Islamic rituals properly, right? Or even if they did, it’s abundantly clear that the underlying reason is foreign occupation, is it not?

  59. #59 Deepak Shetty
    January 26, 2011

    The use of violence is wrong. But it’s also wrong to equate Islam with the use of violence.

    Did I? The position Im taking is that once you witness this yourself (as opposed to read about it a newspaper) , you will try to have safeguards to prevent it from happening.

    It’s wrong to suggest that every child who participates in Ramadan is doing so because of threats.

    Did I make this claim? How many children does it take before you think there’s something wrong with this practice? The answer should be one. What safeguards can you have?

    children do not attend mosques or participate in Ramadan because of threats of violence.

    Because a six year old would voluntarily go hungry for most of the day right?
    It happens , and there are no safeguards. And there will be none till people like you change their minds. You can debate about the nature of the safeguards (and I disagree with Hirsi Ali too on this matter) but its silly to ignore the issue.

  60. #60 Josh Rosenau
    January 26, 2011

    Traditionally, children under 12ish don’t fast for Ramadan, so what’s why are you bringing up 6 year-olds.

    Violence or threats of violence are bad, but unless you’re suggesting some inherent link between Islam and such violence, I don’t know why you think this comment thread is the place to take up the matter.

  61. #61 Deepak Shetty
    January 26, 2011

    I don’t know why you think this comment thread is the place to take up the matter.

    Because religious schools are linked to this problem. You took objection to Hirsi Ali’s desire to abolish Muslim schools. I want to know how aware are you of some of the problems of these type of schools and if you are then what your suggestion is.

  62. #62 ummabdulla
    January 27, 2011

    So fasting Ramadan is some kind of child abuse? My children fasted at that age sometimes; I didn’t make them, and I told them if they wanted to eat and drink, to do so, but sometimes they chose to fast the whole time. They felt a sense of community with the billion Muslims around the world, had a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and also thought about those people who went hungry because they had no choice. (And I would think you should be worried more about all of those people who struggle to find food every day, Deepak.)

    Even when someone fasts, they have a meal just before dawn and another at sunset. Yes, it can be difficult the first day or two, and you might feel hungry and thirsty, but it’s hardly child abuse!

    Assuming that Deepak Shetty is a name of Indian origin, I can’t help think of the millions of Indian girls who never made it into this world because of foeticide and infanticide, the Indian kids who are starving, working in dangerous, difficult jobs, etc. And you’re worrying about Muslim kids fasting with their families in Ramadan, like it’s the worst problem in the world?

  63. #63 Laurent Weppe
    January 27, 2011

    Because a six year old would voluntarily go hungry for most of the day right?

    Have you ever heard of mimicry? Like children doing something because it is what grown-ups do? And have you ever heard of kids refusing to go eat because they where playing, or doing something more interesting, or having an anger fit? Because unless you have lived you whole adult life in a basement devoid of any child under ten years of age, you have been in contact with children willingly going hungry for a day, and most of the time, against their parents’ will.

    You took objection to Hirsi Ali’s desire to abolish Muslim schools

    And he is right to do so: Hirsi Ali “let’s forbide the mere existence of muslim schools” advocacy is heinous (not simply wrong or bad, or ill-fated) for two big reasons:

    Not only is such a policy anti-enlightment and “anti-western civilization” as it would create an institutionalized political privilege toward certain religious communities (and also toward certain ethnicities and social classes), something which is completely anathema to the founding principles of any modern democracy, but it is also built upon the postulate that some religions (christianity, judaism, buddhism) can be involved in the education of children without causing harm, while Islam cannot be and never will: in other words: it is based on a big fat lie, obvious to anyone with a modicum of culture and historical knowledge.

    When it comes to religious schools, either society considers that the threat of fundamentalism is manageable, and in this case authorizes them as long as their known practices and policies do not include child abuse and/or other illegal activities; or society considers that the threat of fundamentalism is not manageable, and therefore decides to completely secularize the education and only allow non-religious schools to operate.

    Of course, some have tried to argue that Islam was ontologically worse than other religions (christianity and judaism most of the time) in order to justify anti-muslim discrimination, but so far, the proponants of such an idea have:

    • Practiced quote mining from (not always competently done) translations of the Quran while refusing to aknowledge the existence of passage as damning in the Bible or other scriptures
    • Pointed fingers toward reprehensible traditions and customs practiced in the muslim world while refusing to aknowledge the fact that they were or still are practiced by non-Muslims (like the Vatican-sanctionned female genital mutilations) or that they are declining (arranged marriages and marriages involving children have been decreasing for several decades, but shhhhhhhh, it goes against the narrative of the muslim world locked in a medieval stasis)
    • Claimed that social progress enjoyed by the western world is proof that “judeo-christian culture” is more progress-friendly while denying that such progress happened because among other things religious institutions coercitive power weakened (which is evidence in favor of secularism, not “judeo-christian culture”)
    • Claimed that secular humanism was a product of christian doctrine (so why are christian fundamentalists and traditionnalists so opposed to secular humanism?) and therefore Islam was not compatible with it (What a beautiful non-sequitur)
    • Claimed that the number of christian fundamentalists was negligible (“negligible” like 30% of Americans claiming that the Bible is the actual word of god) or that muslim fundamentalists were way more numerous, whithout any evidence to back up such a claim.

    In other words, they have not produced anything but more displays of intellectual dishonesty (or outright lies) and more simulacra of erudition (as if creationism, global-warming denial, stories of non existent WMD programs, kenyan conspiracies and all those urban myths were not already enough) making the argument that Islam should be subject to an harsher legal treatment than other religions devoid of any intellectual legitimacy.

  64. #64 Saikat Biswas
    January 27, 2011

    @62 : Couldn’t agree with you more. No criticism should be directed towards Islam before we address every instance of social, political and cultural intolerance and fanaticism that afflicts every other religion or every other non-Islamic societies. After all, any religious criticism worth considering is always about comparison. There’s plainly more Christian fundamentalists (or even Jewish or Hindu ones) than there are Muslim ones. How does that not make Islam way less fundamentalist?

  65. #65 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    ummabdulla

    So fasting Ramadan is some kind of child abuse?

    For children of age 6? Are you seriously expecting anything other than a yes? And that holds whether its a hindu or muslim.

    I didn’t make them

    Yeah , yeah, yawn

    I can’t help think of the millions of Indian girls who never made it into this world because of foeticide and infanticide
    Classic tu quoque. Anyway What makes you think I dont think about them?. In any case all religion has a net negative influence in my opinion, that includes Hinduism. However note that there are laws against female infanticide and doctors cannot legally reveal the sex of a child (though ofcourse this hasnt fixed the problem). The point however is that society in the form of the laws it has acknowledges that female infanticide is wrong and has tried to take steps to prevent it. The difference when it comes to the problem of saying making a child fast , or forcing women to be the nth bride of some rich person is that society has no laws or safeguards.

    Im of Indian origin. Im curious are you a western muslim?

  66. #66 Josh Rosenau
    January 27, 2011

    Deepak: My point is that you seem to be arguing something like this syllogism: 1) It is necessary to close abusive schools. 2) Some Muslim schools are abusive. 3) Therefore, let’s abolish Muslim schools.

    Do you see why that fails? Do you see how you go from “some” in step 2 to all in step 3? Do you see how you switch entirely from talking about abusive behavior in step 1 to talking only about Islam by the end? If you want to shut down abusive schools, then shut down abusive schools. But unless you can show that every Muslim school, or at least a significant majority of them, are abusive, then there’s no legitimate way to get from closing abusive schools to banning Islamic schools.

  67. #67 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    Saikat

    with children willingly going hungry for a day

    Teens yes. 6 year olds? For 10-15 days? continuously? are you serious? because if you are then probably you are typing this out of some basement that you have lived in for your adult life.

    And he is right to do so

    And I said so , I said Hirsi Ali is wrong about banning religious schools, however it seems that a lot of people dont see that a problem does exist when it comes to a religious school (including the more benign varieties). I dont like the company she keeps, I dont think she is a hero , and I think you can find better critiques of religion including Islam.

    And this is precisely the problem. What is child abuse? If say you see ummabdulla saying his children of the same age (im assuming about 6) *voluntarily* fast – do you think this is child abuse or not? Is conditioning a girl child to accept polygamy child abuse or not? And if you answer it is , how would you practically implement this – you cant have a nanny state telling every parent what he can or cannot do , nor is this pragmatically possible to enforce.

    Of course, some have tried to argue that Islam was ontologically worse than other religions

    Not me. All are bad or at best redundant. I know sam argues sometimes that Islam is worse than say Jainism , I can see his point , though I disagree.

  68. #68 Saikat Biswas
    January 27, 2011

    Deepak, was that me you were addressing?

  69. #69 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    @Josh
    No thats not my argument. I didnt say abolish any religious school , I said have safeguards(I dont know what form these will take). I said religious schools are a problem. This is more evident in the east than the west , but its silly to say youll only have a law in the west after you see a problem.

    a. First define abusive(of the non physical variety). Or take a specific case of the poster who says his young children voluntarily fast for a days continuously from dawn to dusk. is that child abuse?
    Assuming the answer is yes

    b. Next acknowledge that this is a teaching of religion (in this case Islam). We cant have laws that tell the religious to interpret their religion in a particular way. Nor can we figure out every single variant of what constitutes abuse for every single religion(polygamy? arranged marriage? dowry?). Acknowledge also that you want a uniform law , not muslims shouldnt do this and mormons shouldn’t do that.

    c. Figure out how to implement b.

  70. #70 Josh Rosenau
    January 27, 2011

    Deepak: “I said religious schools are a problem.”

    But it seems like you meant “abusive schools are a problem.” Which is why I thought you were equating religion (or maybe just Islam) and abuse. Which is wrong.

    “take a specific case of the poster who says his young children voluntarily fast for a days continuously from dawn to dusk. is that child abuse?”

    Not obviously so. Details matter, and there are situations I could imagine which would be abusive and which would meet that description. But assuming the kid really did just want to be involved, and really did have the option of resuming eating and drinking at any time, then no, I don’t think it’s right to call that abusive. And you haven’t really made the case for calling it that.

    Kids like to imitate their parents, and it isn’t abusive to let them do so.

    Furthermore, as I said before, Islamic law does not oblige anyone to fast for Ramadan if they are below the age of puberty, and or if fasting would cause them medical problems. You earlier referred to 6 year-olds fasting as if that were the standard for Islam. It isn’t. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but when it happens, and when it isn’t voluntary on the part of a kid (as it was in the only example you seem to have on hand), that’s not “a teaching of religion” or even of Islam in particular.

  71. #71 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    @Josh

    Details matter,

    Alright. What detail would you make think that a 6 year old fasting is NOT abuse?

    Kids like to imitate their parents, and it isn’t abusive to let them do so.

    Nonsense. Drinking? Smoking? Sex?
    Note that we arent even talking about a teen.

    that’s not “a teaching of religion” or even of Islam in particular.

    Hold on there. On what are you basing this on? A literal reading of the Quran(I doubt you want to go here)? Islam as practised(I doubt you want to go here too)?

    My point is merely this. Some people make their children fast based on their understanding of their religion (whether coercive or manipulative – e.g. feeling brotherhood with 1 billion muslims is irrelevant to me). It doesnt matter whether its a small % or a majority – One child is enough.
    This should be prevented. Any law that tries to do so is going to hit a wall with government cant tell parents(and by extension a religious school) what they can or cannot teach their child about religion (and I agree government really shouldnt). That leaves you with few options. But because people like you(by that I mean educated , fairly secular) arent even willing to consider that such activities are abuse , means nothing will be done. So essentially the schools/parents that are abusive continue as they are.

  72. #72 Laurent Weppe
    January 27, 2011

    @Saikat Biswas

    No criticism should be directed towards Islam before we address every instance of social, political and cultural intolerance and fanaticism that afflicts every other religion or every other non-Islamic societies

    No. You cannot go around and say “Do not criticize this belief system until after you’ve criticized all the others”: that’s applying the golden mean fallacy.
    What I have been describing is the fact that the islamophobic postulate that “Islam is worse than the religions practiced by wealthy white people” is supported by willful ignorance and fake data: in other words, that it is to criticism what quackery is to medecine. I was describing an imposture, not taking a stance against religious criticism.

    ***

    @Deepak Shetty

    Teens yes. 6 year olds? For 10-15 days? continuously?

    Continuously? People practicing Ramadan do not goin hungry for 10-15 days (by the way, the Ramadan is 29 days long, not 10 nor 15) “continuously”: they go hungry for a day, then eat and drink, and redo the same process the next day. Do your homework: Ramadan is not some ascetic continuous fasting, so don’t go around acting like it was.

    If say you see ummabdulla saying his children of the same age (im assuming about 6) *voluntarily* fast

    Children see their mother fasting, children say me too! Not child abuse

    Is conditioning a girl child to accept polygamy child abuse or not?

    It is, at least if you mean what the word means when you say “conditionning”. (“The history teacher mentionned that Muhammad had several wives then did not spend the next 40 minutes bashing him and calling him a perv”: Not conditionning)

    And if you answer it is , how would you practically implement this – you cant have a nanny state telling every parent what he can or cannot do

    Actually: Yes, you can have the state telling every parent what he can or cannot do: that’s what social workers and civic education are for. That’s why teachers are required to alert the authorities if they have good reason to suspect that something wrong is happening within the family of one of their pupil. That’s why citizens are supposed to warn the authorities if they have credible reason to suspect that something wrong is happening in their neighbours’ family.

  73. #73 Saikat Biswas
    January 27, 2011

    @Laurent Weppe : the islamophobic postulate that “Islam is worse than the religions practiced by wealthy white people”..

    Is it also Islamophobic (what a word!) to say that Islam is worse than the religions practiced by middle-income brown people?

  74. #74 Josh Rosenau
    January 27, 2011

    Details do matter. And if you’d made a detailed argument of why I should consider a kid choosing to fast “abuse,” maybe you’d convince me. But you haven’t. So repeatedly referring to it as such doesn’t add anything.

    If your beef is with abusive behavior, then come up with a clear and consistent standard for abuse, show the ways in which it matches and differs from existing laws on child abuse, and then see what can be done to amend those laws to capture cases which you seem to believe are being missed. But repeatedly claiming that certain things constitute abuse without justifying that in existing law or in any clear and objective standard doesn’t get us anywhere.

    Because your complaint above are simply not about religion. I’m sure non-religious instances of this same sort of “abuse” can be found, and many religious people and groups may well not fall within those limits (once you bother identifying those limits). But, I emphasize, this will require you to actually make a case!

  75. #75 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    And if you’d made a detailed argument of why I should consider a kid choosing to fast “abuse,” maybe you’d convince me

    I dont have to convince you of anything. You have a brain , use it. Right now Im only looking for a straight answer do you consider it abuse or not?

  76. #76 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    @Laurent

    Do your homework: Ramadan is not some ascetic continuous fasting, so don’t go around acting like it was.

    Yes because evidently I dont know this. The example given was of a child refusing to eat based on a tantrum for a day. Clearly this doesnt apply for Ramazan hence the use of the word continuously. You think binge eating is healthy for a 6 year old?

    Children see their mother fasting, children say me too! Not child abuse

    You are missing out one part. The mother says sure go ahead! – thats the abuse part. Children see father smoking , say me too! Father says sure, here the cigarette. Thats abuse.

    o suspect that something wrong is happening in their neighbours’ family.

    yes because clearly , people like yourself would report children being made to fast by their parents , no?

  77. #77 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    @Joh
    Oh and if the answer is Details Matter – then please provide one example of a detail that makes it not abuse – only one no more

  78. #78 Josh Rosenau
    January 27, 2011

    Deepak: You are the one raising the topic of abuse, you are the one saying that these things constitute abuse, so it falls to you to actually support the accusation.

  79. #79 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    @Josh
    Im sorely tempted to tell you to make your (future) children fast from dawn till dusk for a month since evidently I have to support this accusation. If it isnt abuse , why dont you try it out? Certainly it isn’t illegal as of today.

    Do you think that a six year old not eating food or drinking water for the better part of a day(usually followed by a binge eating dinner) for multiple days in succession constitutes a healthy diet ?(Im assuming I dont have to support this claim)?
    If it isn’t healthy , then a parent who can feed his/her child but chooses not to do so (in this case because of his interpretation of his religion) is guilty of abuse – he is directly risking the health of his/her child. A parent who encourages his/her child to fast by praising the child as a devout muslim , or saying how they will feel kinship with the other muslims is conditioning his child to accept this practice.

    that’s not “a teaching of religion” or even of Islam in particular.

    Oh and please answer how you come to know what a teaching of Islam actually is – since you seem to have come to a conclusion about the fasting of children in Islam.

  80. #80 Josh Rosenau
    January 27, 2011

    Deepak: I’m glad you didn’t “tell [me] to make [my] (future) children fast from dawn till dusk for a month,” because that would be utterly missing the point. Forcing anyone to fast is problematic, but allowing people to fast is not, IMHO, inherently problematic, let alone abusive.

    That said, you’re inching towards providing some sort of standard for your redefinition of abuse. You aren’t there yet, which is still troubling, since you’re the one who hijacked the discussion with that issue, and you seem oddly outraged that anyone would expect you to know what your own terms mean, or that you should be asked to defend your own position.

    Are any and all instances where a parent provides his or her child with a less-than-optimal diet forms of abuse? What about vegetarian or vegan parents? Is this specific to religion, or are parents who give their kids too many Happy Meals per week also going to be considered abusive?

    I made my comments about the age at which people begin fasting for Ramadan based on my own research. If you think that’s erroneous, then you could show some evidence of your own.

  81. #81 Deepak Shetty
    January 27, 2011

    but allowing people to fast is not,

    Arent we talking about 6 year olds here? Would you allow a 6 year old to smoke? would it be abuse?

    you’re inching towards providing some sort of standard

    Im not going to. You know as well as I do , You wouldnt “allow” this for your children.

    Are any and all instances where a parent provides his or her child with a less-than-optimal diet forms of abuse?

    Knowingly? Of course. (exceptions for when the parent cant afford it etc). Note that a muslim knows that fasting like this isnt an optimal diet (otherwise they could do it the entire year).

    parents who give their kids too many Happy Meals per week also going to be considered abusive?

    Yes. Dont you? Or do you think obesity caused by diets like this arent a problem?

    I made my comments about the age at which people begin fasting for Ramadan based on my own research.

    No no no. Thats not the question. You didnt say Most muslims dont do this which you can back up with your research.
    You said

    that’s not “a teaching of religion” or even of Islam in particular.

    i.e. you said fasting for children is not a teaching of Islam (puberty is the threshold I believe). You made a claim about Islam the religion. So now explain how you arrive at “a teaching of Islam”

  82. #82 ummabdulla
    January 28, 2011

    What is with this ridiculous focus on fasting as child abuse? My children going without eating and drinking during daylight hours – even at an age when they are expected to (which is around 10 or when they reach puberty; there are various opinions) is NOT abuse. And it’s hardly the same as my forcing them to smoke cigarettes. (By the way, smoking cigarettes is not allowed during the fast.)

    People all over the Muslim world – including children – do it (in many places, in very hot climates, too) with no negative effects on their health. (Those who cannot fast for medical reasons are excused.) In fact, if you look into it, you’ll find that it has positive effects on the health. You can still get the same nutrients, albeit on a different schedule. But there’s nothing wrong with children some discipline and patience.

    In fact, a lot of kids would be better off fasting than having the bad diets they have now – and as Josh alluded to, one could make a better case for child abuse for these kids who are obese from fast food and Pepsi, since that does demonstrably damage their health…

    It’s obvious that the people talking about fasting don’t know what they’re talking about anyway. As someone said, Ramadan is either 29 or 30 days. And while that’s the only time fasting is actually required, it’s very much encouraged at other times during the year. Many Muslims also fast on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the year, as well as the middle 3 days of the Islamic (lunar) months. Also, if you know anything about Islam or even Arabs, it would be obvious from my name that I’m a woman. (Is that sexism that assumes I’m a man? That idea that Muslims women aren’t supposed to have a voice and that we need people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak for us?)

    Really, this discussion is absurd. Has anyone ever heard of a problem in the Muslim world because children fast?

  83. #83 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak: “Im not going to [explain my standard].”

    Well there’s not a discussion then. Ta.

  84. #84 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    @ummabdulla

    same as my forcing them to smoke cigarettes.

    The example being given was “allowing” a child to imitate his parents. Clearly we do not allow children to imitate parents unconditionally.

    with no negative effects on their health.

    And you know this , how? And if there are no negative effects then do it the entire year round. Or is it your position that there are no negative effects if done for 30 days but some if done for the entire year. Again you or any adult can do whatever the heck you want – why do you make your children. 6-10 year olds need a balanced , regular diet. Find a non muslim nutrionist who tells you that not eating the entire day followed by literally a feast (atleast what I have seen) is a good diet for young children.

    In fact, a lot of kids would be better off fasting than having the bad diets they have now

    And having herpes is better than having AIDS.

    Also, if you know anything about Islam or even Arabs, it would be obvious from my name that I’m a woman

    No i dont know too many arabs – I am familiar. I broke up your name as u.m.m. abdulla – I didnt realise it was a single word.

  85. #85 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    @Josh

    Well there’s not a discussion then

    Yes , Im beginning to believe that of you. I see you smartly decided not to answer how you arrived at what is a teaching of Islam.

    In any case my last words on this to you – I dont feel a need to define the abuse (just as I dont feel the need to define abuse when a priest molests a child). You wouldn’t make your child fast for a month for a major part of the day so you know why this is not right – I dont feel the need to play your game.
    I also dont feel the need to answer that if this happens for a tiny percentage of muslims why it should still be addressed (just as the number of children molested by priests may be a tiny percentage).
    Goodbye.

  86. #86 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak, you brought a discussion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali around to the topic of Islamic schools, and from there to the idea that Ramadan is child abuse. If you can’t be bothered to actually defend your position, I see no need to continue answering your irrelevant questions.

  87. #87 Ktesibios
    January 28, 2011

    What all this is really about is the best way to divide the world into “us” and “them”, so that “we” can shit on “them” for being “them”.

    So who are “them”? Well, that would include Mohammad, the chubby older guy who runs the Chevron station up the street from where I live, who smiles and reaches for a pack of Camel regulars the instant he sees my face (dude knows his customers), and Mike, the accountant where I work, who signs my paycheck every week and paid me for Thanksgiving day, even though we were closed and don’t have a paid holidays policy.

    That is who you fucking hatefreaks want to declare “less equal” and shit on for who they are- my neighbors, co-workers and friends.

    Just to be clear, although I adhere to no religion whatsoever and don’t belong to any disfavored ethnic group, I am a “them”. My “them”ness was taught to me back in kindergarten, when I first got punched out for being able to read and knowing words that the “normal” kids didn’t understand. That lesson was subsequently reinforced many times over, with the result that my sympathies will always lie with whoever the “normals” flock to shit on, thinking it safe and socially approved.

    Screw trying to make an intellectual argument. I know the odor of cheap bullies and hatefreaks when I inhale it and it always makes me retch.

  88. #88 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    a. Islamic schools is relevant since you cut-paste Hirsi ali’s views on Islamic schools to paint your picture.

    Ramadan is child abuse.

    What? Are you Mooney framing my views for me(and is the only reason I am responding)? I said making(or allowing as you frame it) a child to fast is abuse especially so for a month(is that ramazan?). this is taught both in Islamic schools and by parents in various forms (they are conditioned to do so , they are trained to do so , they are made to keep smaller fasts when younger, they are manipulated into doing so , they are encouraged into doing so). That such a form of fasting is unhealthy for a child should be obvious to you. If it isnt then you can do the research you are fond of and find out.

    , I see no need to continue answering your irrelevant questions.

    Nonsense. You know as well as I do , that any attempt to answer how you arrived at what is a “teaching of Islam” will cause you problems for the other issues that are discussed relating to religion. Hence the attempt to reframe it as “most muslims”

  89. #89 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak: “this is taught both in Islamic schools”

    [Citation needed]

    “and by parents in various forms”

    [Citation needed]

    “(they are conditioned to do so”

    [Citation needed]

    “they are trained to do so”

    [Citation needed]

    “they are made to keep smaller fasts when younger”

    [Citation needed]

    “they are manipulated into doing so”

    [Citation needed]

    “they are encouraged into doing so”

    [Citation needed]

    “That such a form of fasting is unhealthy for a child should be obvious to you. If it isnt then you can do the research you are fond of and find out.”

    Except I don’t plan to do your homework for you.

  90. #90 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    right after you provide your citation for “this isnt a teaching of islam”

  91. #91 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak: No, if you want to justify a call for banning Islamic schools (the origin of this discussion), it honestly does fall to you to provide some evidence that this supposedly abusive behavior a) actually is abusive and b) actually does happen. And since I think you’d agree a single instance where it happens would not justify banning all Islamic schools, item b requires you to show that it’s at least widespread at Islamic schools, and ideally that it’s uniform.

  92. #92 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    sigh.
    a) Among the first things I said was I am not in favor of banning religious schools. However I did say they constitute a problem. And that were you more experienced in seeing some of the influences of such schools where children were sent as a substitute to these schools instead of an addition you might have a different perspective(which doesnt mean you would be gung ho about banning them).

    b) The question of whether fasting for children (about 6 years old for a month) is abusive – Is it healthy or harmful to the child or neither healthy nor harmful. To me this is a no brainer. If I have to convince you of this , then you are the equivalent of a YEC.
    Besides the default behavior is to eat normally. It is the religious that want to fast so if you support this behavior , then the onus is on you to support the claim that such behavior is not unhealthy. if it is unhealthy , hence harmful, that is abuse in my book. Similarly If I have to provide you citations how religious parents get their children to perform religious activities , then again I have nothing to say.

    c. About single instances – Do we actually pass laws based on how many instances of the crime are committed? Again I never asked for banning a school or an Islamic school or all religious schools. I’m asking you the same old question that if a religious teaching is harmful for a child what safeguard can a society have? However people like you seem to take the position that the teaching isn’t harmful(!), or that the religion doesn’t teach it(hence the pestering on how you arrived at your teaching of Islam claim without citations).

  93. #93 Laurent Weppe
    January 28, 2011

    Is it also Islamophobic (what a word!) to say that Islam is worse than the religions practiced by middle-income brown people?

    Oh, you mean, like when wealthy brown skinned politicians are trying to inspire a tribalistic reaction from non-wealthy voters in order to win elections and apply policies which go against the interest of said non-wealthy voters? What’s the difference with rich white people trying to do exactly the same thing?

    You think binge eating is healthy for a 6 year old?

    There are lots of eating patern less healthy than this which are deemed socially acceptable and will never ever be made illegal. And it is besides the point: you started by saying that Ramadan was child abuse because muslim children were forced to do it: when told that your postulate was false, you decided to find a new justification and went for dietary reasons, except that dietary rules and habits are never going to be associated with child abuse unless doctors manage to produce a convincing study. You are just going around demanding that your unevidenced and convoluted postulate (6 years old muslims often fast and are forced to do so and even if this is not the case it hurts them) be treated like an established fact. Except that you have yet to demonstrate that if and when children start fasting, it is because they are coerced into doing this, and that it hurts them enough to warrant a prohibition.

    You are missing out one part. The mother says sure go ahead! – thats the abuse part. Children see father smoking , say me too! Father says sure, here the cigarette. Thats abuse.

    Fallacy one: Putting smoking and not eating for half a day in the same bag: those two activities are not even remotely comparable.
    Fallacy two: You’re trying to describe an hypothetic character (a mother who happens to be so indifferent to her kids’ health that she’s not going to add “But don’t get sick just to do it like me” and not going to look carefully whether they manage to stay in good health or no) as some sort of standard, frequently found, type of person. [citation needed] indeed.

  94. #94 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak: If the issue is Islamic schools in general, then a policy restricting or banning Islamic schools ought to be justified by a general pattern among those schools. Otherwise, the issue isn’t Islam writ large, but particular schools. And that doesn’t require subjecting Islamic schools to scrutiny, but simply having a policy providing minimal nutrition standards for all schools. Which takes us way past anything Ayaan Hirsi Ali was talking about, and therefore beyond the scope of this post.

    Do I think it’s bad for kids to skip lunch for a month? Yes, but I don’t know that any 6 year olds actually attempt to do the full month of Ramadan fasting, and it falls to you to show that this is a problem in need of a solution. Do I think it’s abusive to allow a kid to skip lunch one day in order to see what fasting is all about? You might be able to convince me, but so far you haven’t tried, and that’s pretty much the only example we have at hand. For instance, allowing a kid to climb trees could result in harm and could be unhealthy, but I don’t think it’s abusive to allow kids to climb trees. Ditto for organized sports. Simply saying that something can be harmful clearly isn’t enough to claim it’s abusive, and you’ve yet to offer anything distinguishing allowing a kid to skip lunch one day (and make up the caloric deficit with a big breakfast and dinner) from allowing a kid to try out a risky sport or other game.

    By your acknowledgment, your definition of abuse would also sweep in people who eat fast food regularly, so why bring this issue up in defense of Hirsi Ali rather than in the context of Supersize Me? Why bring it up relative to Islam rather than American consumerism. I see a double standard at work, and you keep passing up opportunities to justify this distinction.

    You say that it’s an Islamic teaching that kids fast for Ramadan. You’ve offered no support for that, and a quick Google search reveals lots of resources that agree fasting should begin at puberty, that the sick are exempt, as are travelers. So, we have About.com’s Islam section answering the question: Do children observe Ramadan?: “Muslim children are not required to fast until they reach the age of maturity (puberty). However, in many families, younger children enjoy participating and are encouraged to practice their fasting. It is common for a younger child to fast for part of a day, or for one day on the weekend, especially in the shorter winter months. This way, they enjoy the “grown-up” feeling that they are participating in the special events of the family and community.”

    Islam4parents.com provides this hadith: “The pens have been lifted from three: from one who has lost his mind until he comes back to his senses, from one who is sleeping until he wakes up, and from a child until he reaches the age of adolescence.”

    Other hadiths are referenced here. The director of the Muslim World League’s Canadian office agrees, saying that “Children under the age of puberty and discretion” are exempt from fasting.

    By linking to these sites, I’m not endorsing anything else they might say, I’m just noting that everyone agrees that puberty is the cutoff for requiring fasting for Ramadan, and most cite the same hadith to justify the claim, which I’d say qualifies it as a teaching of Islam. You think otherwise, and now it’s your turn to provide some sort of evidence for the unsupported claims you’ve been beating on for the last week.

  95. #95 Saikat Biswas
    January 28, 2011

    @Laurent Weppe : Oh, you mean, like when wealthy brown skinned politicians are trying to inspire a tribalistic reaction from non-wealthy voters in order to win elections and apply policies which go against the interest of said non-wealthy voters? What’s the difference with rich white people trying to do exactly the same thing?

    None really. And that’s exactly the point which you could have made more succintly earlier instead of implying that the most conspicuously vocal critics of Islam are those white-skinned nutcases who have their own religious agenda.

  96. #96 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    you started by saying that Ramadan was child abuse because muslim children were forced to do it:

    You are blatantly mistating what I said. I said making children fast during ramazan is abuse . I made no comment on the festival. So either point me to a statement that i made which i will retract with apology or tell me why you are misttaing my position.

    Except that you have yet to demonstrate that if and when children start fasting, it is because they are coerced into doing this,

    And this is where I lose any respect or any desire to continute talking to you. Do you know any child who willingly goes without water or food? Do you need a scientific study to demonstrate this?

    Putting smoking and not eating for half a day in the same bag: those two activities are not even remotely comparable.

    The point of the analogy is not a comparison of the two activities. Merely that we do not allow unconditional imitation. Since a couple of posters talked about children mimicking parents , hence not abuse. The point of the analogy is if the act is harmful then allowing it is abuse (you can still disagree on whether the act is harmful or not).

  97. #97 Deepak Shetty
    January 28, 2011

    Josh
    again you keep attributing positions to me that I dont have. I
    a. Never asked for a ban
    b. Never defended Hirsi Ali

    For instance, allowing a kid to climb trees could result in harm and could be unhealthy,

    Not the same. Fasting for a month for a kid is unhealthy. You may or may not fall from the tree.

    By your acknowledgment, your definition of abuse would also sweep in people who eat fast food regularly,

    So parents who regularly feed this to their children , making them obese, what do you call it?

    You say that it’s an Islamic teaching that kids fast for Ramadan.

    Nope I said its done by some parents. its you who made the claim to know what the Islamic teaching is. And I want you to stick to that definition (which seems to be use Google , find a bunch of muslim sites that support what you said – also citation of a hadith seems to be sufficient as well) for the other discussions on religion. So are we agreed that, that constitutes Islamic teaching? (again this is irrelevant to the current discussion , but it is useful for the future).

    Muslim children are not required to fast until they reach the age of maturity (puberty)

    Which can be as low as 10 or 12 correct? And you have also implicitly agreed that children who are mature are required to fast? Are they now coerced into fasting?

    However, in many families, younger children enjoy participating and are encouraged to practice their fasting.

    And this should tell you some more. Younger children enjoy not having anything to drink for the better of the day no?
    You have more examples right here posted by ummabdulla

    My children fasted at that age sometimes;

    Along with the I didnt force them , they felt a sense of community with a billion muslims – Do you seriously buy that? Do you take these words as literally true?

    Is it a problem in need of solving? Ive already told you – How many children would it take before you concede it is a problem in need of solving?

  98. #98 Josh Rosenau
    January 28, 2011

    Deepak: “Do you seriously buy that?”

    Yeah. And you’ve given me no reason not to. I see a lot of outraged text, but no actual attempt to offer evidence. You go ’round and ’round in circles, and discussions with you go nowhere. I’m done.

  99. #99 ummabdulla
    January 29, 2011

    What a stupid argument…

    I’d invite Josh to spend some time with Muslim families around Ramadan. (Sorry, Deepak, but I wouldn’t wish you on any Muslim families.) It’s not at all uncommon for children who aren’t required to fast to insist on fasting anyway. I couldn’t care less whether Deepak believes it or not, but more than once, I actually tried to get my children to eat, because they were young and didn’t need to fast, and they insisted on fasting – even on days when they had school and when it was very hot. We’re all healthy, thank God, and there were no harmful effects.

    For people not used to fasting – which includes adults who don’t regularly fast – you feel hungry or thirsty and maybe have a headache for the first day or two (especially if your body’s dependent on caffeine). Then it is much easier, and the month goes by very quickly. The same goes for children.

    And the point that’s most important here – fasting from dawn to sunset is not harmful! (And if you have some medical condition that does make it harmful for you, you’re exempted.) All these Muslims(over a billion now) have been doing it for all these years (1400 – and other religions had different kinds of fasts, too), and no one has talked about it being unhealthful.

    OK, I’m done, too.

  100. #100 Mrs Tilton
    January 30, 2011

    First, to get the relatively unimportant, religious part of this out of the way: Ummabdulla and others, I am an atheist (though formerly religious) and think your Muslim beliefs pointless and a bit silly; in exactly the same way, no more and no less, that I think the beliefs of Hindus, Jews, my own former fellow Christians, etc. etc. etc. pointless and silly, and for the same reason. (NB: the beliefs, not the people. There are many believers, both of my own former kind and others, whom I admire and hold in great affection.) But I also defend absolutely your, and their, right to your respective beliefs so long as you do not try to impose them on others. I may wish you would find your way free of superstition, but so long as you (for any value of “you”) do not insist that the secular law require me to do X and abstain from Y (for whatever values of “X” and “Y” a given religion demands), then your beliefs and practices are not my or anybody else’s business and fair play to you. I say this only because I want to make clear that what I am about to say is driven neither by religious belief nor by antipathy to religious belief.

    Now then. I’ve never thought much about Hirsi Ali. She strikes me as a brave woman who will nonetheless keep harping on about the same things to a sometimes tiresome degree, but hey, she had experienced some hellish things under that system, so her harping was understandable. I’d be inclined to cut her a great deal of slack.

    But if she makes common cause with the loathsome Peter King, she will have exhausted that slack, and more. He is no opponent of murderous religious violence. He merely champions his own brand against its competitors. There is no important difference between the terrorists he admires and helps and those he claims to hate, except that only some of the ones he likes wear beards.

    Again, that is largely his own business and if that were all there were to it I’d be inclined to leave him to stew in his own sewage. But it is not just personal belief, he is also an enthusiastic supporter of terrorism and religious murder. He has given active support to terrorist criminals who have inflicted horrific pain on my own country of Ireland and on our British neighbours, and however remote the possibility might be, I still hope to see him die in an Irish prison.

    As for Hirsi Ali, there are things about her I admire and I have otherwise largely reserved judgement. But if she agrees to help that foul sack of shite Peter King, then I would write her off altogether. Josh would be right; they’d deserve each other. I hope that’s not the case, because you’d need to be a very disgusting human altogether to deserve Peter King.

  101. #101 piero
    February 25, 2011

    All Muslims are fucking bags of shit and should be slowly roasted alive!

  102. #102 Geoff
    February 28, 2011

    I appreciate Mr. Rosenau’s article, but it consists almost entirely of unsupported assertions: the King hearings are about “attacking Muslims in America”; there is a “crusade against the Murfreesboro mosque” and presumably the Ground Zero (where does it end, precisely?) mosque (yes, it is that too); the “wide revulsion” against the “bigoted” Rep. King. As assertions go, they sound good, and they’re meant to. My suspicion is that the description of these elements of the hearings and their chairman are more invective than descriptive, frankly. Of the laundry list of demands that Mr. Rosenbau gives for Mr. King’s in absentio denunciation, which has Mr. Rosenbau denounced publically? Should we assume that, because he makes no statement about them, that he tacitly supports them? How about the Jewish Holocaust? The Armenian Holocaust? Rwanda? Cambodia? Should we ask whether Mr. Rosenbau supports such genocide? Clearly, on definition of his parameters, he must: it must be merely that he prefers certain kinds of massacre to others, nicht wahr? As a strawman approach, it has a certain glib edibility, but not when one examines what’s actually on the plate.

    Moreover, merely being called before King’s panel is no more indicative of Mr. King’s alleged bias than anything else; although I do note that CAIR of all possible “humanitarian” institutions has a great deal to say about who appears, making one wonder in just what direction the outcome of the hearings could be twisted.

    Before using Ms. Ali’s positions to damn her with faint praise by aligning her with the supposedly established evil of Mr. King, it might also be informative to ask what she means by “Islam” among other generalities in her language: as an example, I have rarely heard protesters against Catholicism employ such reductionist language as “I deplore only and specifically the practice of official protectionism for Catholic priests accused of paedophilia and attack not the entire conceptualization of Catholic faith, dogma and organization where it conflicts with humanitarian justice”; rather, it usually comes out as a blanket accusation: “Catholicism this” and “Catholicism that” and “Catholics this” and “Catholics that”. Shall I dismiss their concerns simply because I consider Catholicism as some kind of a recent whipping boy, obviating analysis en passant as I drive my argument to – where, again? In what stance should we allow such discussion, Mr. Rosenau? Few individuals – even the commendable Ms. Ali – are so erudite. Brief attention spans command brevity.

    There is no traction to be gained in fair discussion of the issues from such pointless slandering, especially based on supposition. You see no good in such arguments because of such supposition – and, if I may employ similar measures, it is because you do not wish to see any good in discussion with those you poise as inimical to Islam at all, pretending that – unlike Falwell and Robertson and Kahane – no such problems can exist in the religious philosophy under discussion.

    Does that not seem strikingly bigoted? Should I make such a conclusion?

    GeoffP

  103. #103 piero
    February 28, 2011

    A couple of days ago I posted a message which read “all Muslims are pigs and should be burnt alive”, or something like that. It was meant as a provocation, in order to make a point.

    The message was not published. It could have been lost in cyberlimbo, or it could have been censored. If it was censored, I applaud the moderator’s decision. I wouldn’t have published it either. But then, why should Islamists be allowed to say the same thing about Jews? Double standards much?

  104. #104 Achaemenid
    March 1, 2011

    Well, well well – is there anyone, anyone at all on the whole ScienceBlogs sites who has any guts at all? Anyone who has the slightest interest in actually standing up for reason and for civilization?

    Pack of lousy cowards.

  105. #105 Achaemenid
    March 1, 2011

    Actually, I think one could make a good workout routine:

    “Alright, we are going to do the ScienceBlogs workout! A-one-two-three… And cave! And cave! And cave! And crawl! And crawl! And crawl! And beg! And beg! And beg! And cower! And cower! And cower! Come on, you can look more pathetic and whipped than that!”

  106. #106 Bob
    April 3, 2011

    For what the anecdote is worth, children – at least one – do fast voluntarily. My girlfriend, who is now atheist, happily fasted from a very young age, perhaps partly because it made her folks proud, but mostly for the challenge. She certainly wasn’t forced. Her brother, who is a useless shite when it comes to food, has never managed a fast because he can’t go a day without KFC. If you still want to think that her parents are Radical Muslims who forced her to fast, consider that they are liberal enough to fund her studies while she lives with her white atheist boyfriend.

  107. #107 Stephen
    April 3, 2011

    One of the worst pains for me is discovering a blog written by clearly intelligent man with excellent grammatical prowess that I never want to read again.

    Ouch.

  108. #108 Marion Delgado
    June 23, 2011

    We’re not cowards, “Achmaenid” – we’re just normally too polite to call worthless pieces of Nazi shit like you what you are. And no, we’re not standing down to your barbarism, hatred of freedom and justice and peace, and celebration of jingoism and irrationality. Not whatsoever.