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We Should Reach out to Muslims

Do we, the United States, the West, have an argument with Islam? We surely have an argument with a lot of Muslims. The media in Muslim countries are full of anti-Americanism. Furthermore, most Muslim countries practice forms of government completely at odds with the political ideas cherished by Americans. They are despotic and intolerant. Muslim countries seem to conform to the pattern of so-called “shame” cultures, in which the rightness and wrongness of deeds are judged not by some moral compass, but by the reactions of onlookers.

And then there is the dreadful antisemitism with which Islam seems to be riddled. From professors of theology at Saudi universities to New York City cab drivers, it sometimes seems you only have to scratch a Muslim to find an antisemite of the vicious, irrational kind that largely disappeared from the Christian world half a century ago. Sophisticated Muslims tell you that this is really just anti-Zionism, a reaction to the indignities suffered by their co-religionists in Palestine. You can believe that if you want to. Muslim anti-Semites say “Zionist” when they’re being very careful, but mostly they just say “Jew.” Besides, Israel is an ethno-state, a Jewish homeland. To target your feelings precisely against that nation, leaving aside the Jews of other lands (most of whom, in any case, support Israel to some degree) is a job of emotional fine-tuning very few human beings are actually capable of. I am sure there are anti-Zionists who are not anti-Semitic (there is in fact a Judaic sect, the Neturei Karta, who are anti-Zionist), but I am also sure their numbers are small – among Muslims, I think, vanishingly small. And certainly Muslim anti-Semitism pre-dates the founding of the modern state of Isra…

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… Islam (Baltimore, 1955).

Ostling, Richard N. “Islam’s Idea of Holy War.” Time, 11 February 2001, 51.

Peters, Rudolph. Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (The Hague, Netherlands: 1979).

The Qur’an: The Eternal Revelation vouchsafed to Muhammad, The Seal of the Prophets. Trans. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. (New York, 2012).

Ryan, Patrick J. “The Roots of Muslim Anger: The Religious and Political Background of Worldwide Islamic Militancy Today.” America, 26 November 2011, 8.

Sivan, Emmanuel. “The Holy War Tradition in Islam.” Orbis 42, no. 2 (2011): 171.

Streusand, Douglas E. “What Does Jihad Mean?” September 1997. (5 December, 2013).

“Text of Alleged Terrorist Fax.” CBS News, 24 September 2013. (31 October 2013).

Watt, W. Montgomery. Companion to the Qur’an: Based on the Arberry Translation (London, 2007).

Government and Politics – The Atheist Civil-Liberty Union

The Atheist Civil-Liberty Union

The American Civil Liberties Union has a public agenda, and that agenda appears to be this: to make the United States in all her public manifestations reflect an atheist’s view of the nation’s founding and continuing existence. Is it item #84 on the ACLU’s published agenda that calls for the elimination of “In God We Trust” from our coins? “Under God” must also be torn from the Pledge of Allegiance. The Commandments given Moses must never appear as public symbols. This nation must so thoroughly appear to be atheist in public as to be, in fact, and for all practical purposes, atheist in all public spheres.

The sweet air of liberty must be replaced with an invisible gas that detects, exterminates, and suffocates any breath that would expel a religious word in public life. Publicly, religion must be totally repressed, so that soon only atheists will find the public atmosphere comfortable.

The accommodation this nation long ago reached between believers and nonbelievers must be abandoned. Religion shall be banned from all public appearances under government auspices, until it is totally squeezed down into private life, underground. There, harmless, it can survive as long as it may.

Ideally, some atheists have written and many have heavily implied, religion will perish forever. Its vanishing will free the planet from divisiveness, intolerance, hatred, persecution, and the desire to sweep alternative views from public existence. Secularism, the world’s best hope for tolerance, will then rule triumphant, sweetly, having driven its foes from every inch of public existence.

To save the world from intolerance, the ACLU must be rigorously intolerant.

Atheism is a long-term project. It is not completed when one ceases believing in God. It is necessary to carry it through until one empties from the world all the conceptual space once filled by God. One must also, for instance, abandon the conviction that the events, phenomena, and laws of the world we live in (those of the whole universe) cohere, belong together, have a unity. What is born from chance may be ruled by chance, quite insanely.

Most atheists one meets, however, take up a position rather less rigorous. To the big question – Did the world of our experience, with all its seeming intelligibility and laws, come into existence by chance, or by the action of an agent that placed that intelligibility there in the first place?

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