“You’re going to Hell, but I’m not driving.”

Neither Christianity nor Judaism is free of adherents who wish death for others based on their religious texts. Read about the Sabra and Shatila massacre and observe the hateful behavior of conservative west bank settlers. 
But the percentage of such zealots is tiny compared to that within Islam. I think worldwide, Muslims have not reached an overall level of cultural relativity and sophistication equal to that (mostly) achieved by Jews and Christians (and non-believers). If there is a “You must be this tall to go on this ride” for peaceful co-existence it is this: “I don’t like your beliefs but it’s bad for everyone if we try to control each other”.  There are toxic ideas in Judaism and Christianity but overall in western societies a little more “live and let live” worked into the fabric of life to allow civil and diverse society to flower. 
There is a good bit of bullying and rule by fear within the various cultures of Islam. We do have some Christians like this in the United States who would love to bully others with their religion. If our religious bullies gained any actual power they would be deadly. They seek political power and we watch them carefully, trying our hardest to retain separation of church and state. But religious police don’t patrol the streets, separating lovers and punishing women for dress code violations. There are no gangs of murderous Christians hacking bloggers to death for opposing the radical “Christianists”. Until the center of gravity shifts beneath the majority of Muslims to similarly downgrade their self appointed religious police force, they won’t be ready for a modern world that frankly requires diversity. 

In addition, there is a difference between having a prophet who is poor and powerless and peaceful versus one who was literally a warlord and conqueror. In its time Christianity WAS violent and aggressive even with “gentle Jesus” as the hood ornament. How much worse would it have been if the gospels were full of justified religious warfare?  Islam was the political force that united Arabia … at sword point. Islam means “surrender” and while that refers to surrender to god, the reality is that that means surrender to the earthly authorities of Islamic dogma whether in their more moderate form or thugs like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and “Islamic State”. Islam was from the beginning a government and a system forced upon others. There is no repudiation of this role in the hearts and minds of most Muslims. ISIL is behaving very much like the first armies that spread Islam. 

Human beings are not reliably rational. They can behave in horrid ways when swept up in passionate group. Looking at the 3 Abrahamic religions as memes we should consider two important and separate aspects. First, how violent and intolerant are the core ideas, are second, how viral is it? 

  • Judaism has a harsh set of laws but its virality is too low to consider. This is the strategy of continuity and withdrawal. There is a high value in the group about staying with the group and no interest at all in bringing in outsiders. 
  • Christianity has soft set of laws (even though the old testament is straight from Judaism). Its virality is strong since evangelism is basicly its mission statement. Christianity can be awful and vicious in the wrong hands but overall it has probably played a part of TENDING to lead toward humanistic, tolerant cultures. 
  • Islam is a combination of harsh laws and extreme virality. It is this combination that makes it worrisome. Because warfare and eventual governmental control and elimination of differing beliefs are givens within Islam, it poses a threat to western humanist values. 

For Christ’s sake, Islam isn’t a RACE!

 Many of my friends seem to feel that dislike of Islam is racist or wrongly discriminatory. This drive to assume the best of people and reach out with welcome is completely admirable. It’s a good instinct and it’s been the correct instinct over and over for the United States. And there’s no doubt that there are meat-heads out there with simple bigotry and malice in their hearts toward Islamic people. But first, there is no Islamic race, and secondly there is nothing wrong with discriminating against ideas and social movements that you oppose. Islam is not like being black or Asian, it’s like being Mormon or Scientologist. The minute you tell me I have no right to critique a belief system or its cultural impact you have cut the throat of free speech. The word “Islamophobia” is a jeering insult accusing the target of racism. It is meant to silence all opposition, rational or not. 

The other idea, that disliking Islam is some sort of anti-diversity rah-rah for right wing Christianity is also false. There seems to be a strange, demented blind spot in a lot of Liberals concerning culture. It seems like a mix of a naive Sunday school earnestness that we are supposed to Like Everybody, along with a very cockeyed idea that we must borrow from anthropologists a complete cultural neutrality. It is a cultural version of “Love sees no color” but in reality it’s more like “Love notices no unpleasant facts.” One unpleasant fact that doesn’t get noticed is the “check your privilege” shocker that this stance places itself above other cultures, looking down on them. This isn’t the INTENT but it IS the stance. To the extent that inflexible liberals reflect on their own culture, it will generally be a laundry list of sins and failures. When the same people discuss another culture more third worldly than our own they generally behave in a patronizingly generous way referring to the ways in which that culture is more pure or soulful than our own. 
Two anecdotal examples:
1. I knew a wealthy woman in a very white, middle American town who made her family celebrate the holidays of other cultures rather than our own. Obscure ways of celebrating in other lands would be researched and dutifully carried out. I do see the positive intent behind this, but there is so much wrong with it. It simultaneously places “culture” on a pedestal and denies us any of our own as if our own was a failed experiment even as it drains the entire experience of these celebrations of their power and soulfulness by isolating them from any people who actually love them. In a strange way it says “Culture is of huge importance  but it’s beneath us to experience it directly”. It says very parenthetically… “(simple people LIVE their culture. Not us)”. 
2. A friend of mine went through a university class in an extremely liberal social work program and as the class was discussing female genital mutilation in an Islamic African country she expressed horror and outrage at this continuing to happen. She was surprised in this very liberal and very feminist group to be met with defensive anger by a group of young women who derided her for being judgmental of another culture. They were adamant that she was in the wrong for being this white privileged first world person trying to tell these people how to live. 
Now as I said, these are anecdotes, they don’t prove anything, they simply demonstrate the mindset I’m describing. It exists and I want to state clearly that: I KNOW IT IS WELL INTENDED. Of course it’s well intended! It comes from an impulse to destroy racism/xenophobia. It comes from an impulse to welcome strangers and celebrate diversity. It just shouldn’t be the only tool in the kit and right now it tends to be used like: “Thank God I have my hammer since every single problem is a nail!”

Ironically it’s my liberal friends – the very ones who post political messages decrying the old testament based political actions of our extreme right wing – who act like Islam is a harmless and misunderstood victim. There are liberals and people who dream of a safe, secular state within Islamic cultures. These people want equality for women, and intellectual freedom. Liberals who refuse to critique the dark side of Islam are siding with oppressors. They are siding with the equivalents of the fundamentalists they feel threatened by here at home. If you cherish western humanist values of free speech, free thought, etc. but you act as an apologist for Islam, then understand, you are playing the frog in the old story of the frog and the scorpion. 

Here are some polls on what Muslims believe:

Pew Research (2013):

  • Only 57% of Muslims worldwide disapprove of al-Qaeda.
  • Only 51% disapprove of the Taliban.
  • 13% support both groups and 1 in 4 refuse to say.


Wenzel Strategies (2012):

  • 58% of Muslim-Americans believe criticism of Islam or Muhammad is not protected free speech under the First Amendment.
  • 45% believe mockers of Islam should face criminal charges (38% said they should not).
  • 12% of Muslim-Americans believe blaspheming Islam should be punishable by death.
  • 43% of Muslim-Americans believe people of other faiths have no right to evangelize Muslims.
  • 32% of Muslims in America believe that Sharia should be the supreme law of the land.


ICM Poll:

  • 40% of British Muslims want Sharia in the UK
  • 20% of British Muslims sympathize with 7/7 bombers


Pew Research (2010):

  • 82% of Egyptian Muslims favor stoning adulterers
  • 70% of Jordanian Muslims favor stoning adulterers
  • 42% of Indonesian Muslims favor stoning adulterers
  • 82% of Pakistanis favor stoning adulterers
  • 56% of Nigerian Muslims favor stoning adulterers


WZB Berlin Social Science Center:

  • 65%% of Muslims in Europe say Sharia is more important than the law of the country they live in.


Pew Global (2006)

  • 68% of Palestinian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
  • 43% of Nigerian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
  • 38% of Lebanese Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
  • 15% of Egyptian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.


World Public Opinion (2009)

  • 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
  • 32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
  • 41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
  • 38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
  • 62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
  • 42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)


NOP Research:

  • 62% percent of British Muslims say freedom of speech shouldn’t be protected
  • 1 in 4 British Muslims say 7/7 bombings were justified
  • 78% of British Muslims support punishing the publishers of Muhammad cartoons


People Press Surveys

  • 31% of Turks support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq.


Belgian HLN

  • 16% of young Muslims in Belgium state terrorism is “acceptable”.


ICM Poll:

  • 25% of British Muslims disagree that a Muslim has an obligation to report terrorists to police.


Pew Research (2007):

  • 26% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified.
  • 35% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are justified (24% overall).
  • 42% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are justified (35% overall).
  • 22% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are justified.(13% overall).
  • 29% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are justified.(25% overall).


Al-Jazeera (2006):

  • 49.9% of Muslims polled support Osama bin Laden


Populus Poll (2006):

  • 16% of British Muslims believe suicide attacks against Israelis are justified.
  • 37% believe Jews in Britain are a “legitimate target”.




  • 28% of British Muslims want Britain to be an Islamic state


NOP Research:

  • 68% of British Muslims support the arrest and prosecution of anyone who insults Islam;


MacDonald Laurier Institute:

  • 62% of Muslims want Sharia in Canada (15% say make it mandatory)
  • 35% of Canadian Muslims would not repudiate al-Qaeda




  • 36% of Arabs polled said the 9/11 attacks were morally justified; 38% disagreed; 26% Unsure



  • 38.6% of Muslims believe 9/11 attacks were justified (7% “fully”, 6.5% “mostly”, 23.1% “partially”)


Policy Exchange:

  • 1 in 4 Muslims in the UK have never heard of the Holocaust;
  • Only 34% of British Muslims believe the Holocaust ever happened.



To equate being concerned about Islam with racism is a disproportionate attempt to shut down a very important conversation about our own culture. What does it mean to truly respect Freedom of Speech? What does it mean to truly accept the right of other cultures to exist? What does it mean to respect the separation of church and state? To respect civil authority as being ABOVE religious divisions. Like to respect the idea that by living in this country you agree to see others as being free agents with equal rights and not subject to your own chosen rules. 

This is a test that many, many current American citizens would not pass. There are many Christians in this country who fight separation of church and state and who want Christian beliefs enshrined in law. It’s pure cognitive dissonance that they can see that Iran is a theocracy but they cannot see that their own actions are trying to create one here!