Wednesday 14 January 2015

"Islamophobia" - Am I a bigot? Am I racist?

In the wake of Charlie Hebdo we're seeing, what seems to me, another wasted opportunity to address the real issue here. Stupid ideas. In this case, 'my' being offended justifies my action of killing you. Stupid idea.

Rather then asking: how did these idiots arrive at this decision? We focus on the outcome. We call it radicalization and wipe our hands of it. They are crazy! Irrational! You can't reason with them! Look at most Muslims they do good stuff. Therefore, these idiots aren't 'true' Muslims.

So we look past their stated motivation. Even worse, people like me who say: "they are telling us why they did it, it's their religious conviction" get branded as an islamophobe and conversation shuts down. "He's a bigot, he's a racist (?!?), bigot's and racists don't have anything useful to say, so he doesn't have anything useful to say!"

First, lets knock that shit off. It's clearly not racism. By definition. Next, Islamophobia. Is it 'bigoted"? What is Islamophobia? What is bigotry? Some definitions to start off. Here's Google:
an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.
And of course bigot:
a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.
Ok, so there probably is a fairly significant overlap between those irrationally afraid of Muslim's and those who are bigots. But am I a bigot? Do I have an irrational fear of Islam?

It's worth defining what the Islam in Islamophobe is. Because really, who the hell knows? I've read the Bible, and I've read parts of the Quran. It's the same basic stuff. You can read it any which way you want. 'Nice' people take nice stuff from it. 'Shitty' people take shitty things from it (remember Abraham, who's willing to murder his kid because god told him to? Well 'shitty' people might think a voice in their head is justification enough to kill someone. Where as 'nice' people.... wait, how would a nice interpretation of that story go?).

Mea Culpa: I'm scared of shitty people who take their direction from other shitty people who take direction from a book written centuries ago. This is materially different then my intellectual disagreement with nice people taking their direction from other nice people who take direction from a book written centuries ago.

But, let me be clear: I'm scared of any shitty person, who takes their direction from other shitty people, especially when they take their direction from a book written centuries ago. Particularly if your conviction is strong enough for you to employ this direction in the physical world and impact others (if you just think it, I still think you're an idiot, but also believe in (and will defend) your right to think like an idiot). I don't care what else you believe, how you look, how old you are, your race, etc.

I'm also Bayesian by nature, so this fear has zero impact on my life because I know the vast majority of people who disagree with me out there, simply disagree with me and (like me) often find these disagreements make for the best conversations! "Am I going to get killed" would be so far down the list of questions I ask myself upon meeting a Muslim that it's essentially irrelevant. But I still think that it's worth pursuing the implications of this intellectually.

Here's the truth: I am more afraid of the shitty Muslims folks who take their actions from other shitty Muslim folks, then I am of shitty Christian folks who take their actions from other shitty Christian folks. Is this 'Islamophobia'? I guess you could define it as such if you want.

But why? I think that relative fear is rational. 'Shitty' Christians in this day in age try to prevent gay people from getting married and want to change school curriculums. The logic behind these actions are just as stupid as the logic behind the more violent perpetrated by 'Shitty' people in the Islamic world, but the outcomes are clearly less worse (but still terrible). Now neither of these fears are nearly enough to impact my day to day. Is that a phobia? It doesn't seem so. But it's all semantics. If you put me up on a split screen with a 20 second summary of my thoughts it might be labeled so.

And I'm not saying one religion is better or more 'true' then any others. I'm saying the outcomes that stem from some are currently better then other. Not always were, not will be in the future, but at this point in time the out comes are better. The simple truth is that I think no justification for any action should ever be faith based. I just think that reevaluating all laws, social constructs, etc. in a manner that says "not good enough" when someone says, "it's what we believe", or "it's always been done this way", would make this world a better place.

Don't think women should be allowed to drive? Justify it. Don't think two dudes should be allowed to have sex? Justify it. Don't think girls should be allowed to go to school? Justify it. Don't use "it's what we believe", or "it's always been this way" and justify it. I'm actually curious, and all ears. I've never heard an argument that made any sense under these requirements.

Anyone that knows me, knows I don't have alot of patience for 'faith'. I think this is a good place to define that term. From Google:
complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
"this restores one's faith in politicians"
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
My problem with faith has to do with the combination of both points of the definition. A complete trust or confidence and the absence of proof. In fact, that's typically how I define faith, I rid it of any religious connotation. Faith: belief in or of something, in the absence of proof. It just seems like a dumb way to justify something. I believe it because I believe it. Now, the counter argument is, well you have faith that faith is a bad way to arrive at a decision. If you see those as symmetrical in their dogma. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Faith takes many different forms, and results in many different actions. I'd probably even argue that the vast majority of these faith based actions result in positive outcomes (although I think better justification for those actions are redily available, like helping out a poor person because you care for their well being not because your mandated by faith).

The problem is that the justification for those perpetrating the action resulting in a positive outcome, is the exact same justification as those who perpetrate the action resulting in a negative outcome.

In simplified terms: the little old lady who volunteers down at the soup kitchen 'because of her faith' employs the same logic as the guy who doesn't eat bacon "because of his faith", or lets kids think their friends (who don't share their faith) are going to roast in hell for ever "because of their faith", and the guy who thinks his daughter deserved stoning for hurting his feelings (I never really got honour killings) "because of his faith".

My point is that unless you're willing to look at the underlying reason behind ALL of these actions. You'll never properly address the underlying reason behind ANY specific action.

Until I hear an honest conversation on this front. I'll just keep rolling my eyes at these commentators explaining Charles Hebdo, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, etc., etc.  and hope that tomorrow's story in the world of idiocy is about school curriculums and legal rights, and not about honour killings and terrorist attacks.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I applaud you excellent points. You are an excellent writer.
    (PS: "Then" means "therefore", "consequently" or "at that time". It should not be confused with "than". "Than" is used for linking comparisons, .e.g., "Reason is better than faith" not "better then faith".
    I don't mean to be insulting. Please post more of your thoughts. You really tell it like it is!

  3. I appreciate the the thoughts. To be honest I've made a conscious choice to not care about grammar. Not that I actively seek to write with poor grammar, it's more that this thing is just an exercise in me organizing my thoughts. If i come on here and don't just, basically, write as quickly as I'm thinking then (see I just paused and scrolled up to see which one to use.. and I honestly don't know if I did) it defeats my purpose (and enjoyment). So I threw the disclaimer at the top of my blog that 'the writing is poor' and am fine with it.