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06 January 2012

Is Criticism of Islam Racist? Are Most Muslims Peaceful?

By Diana Hsieh

In the Facebook Group for Front Range Objectivism, a reasonable person posted the following remarks:

Fabulous discussion last night [at an event where some Front Range Objectivists spoke]. However, I was truly disturbed to meet some among us, who are influential in the Objectivist community, who express prejudice against Muslims in general. I was hoping this kind of racism was going away, but it appears to be alive and well. We alienate reasonable people who might otherwise ally themselves with us when we make statements about all Muslims being terrorists. Yes, there are Muslims who are subversive terrorists. Unfortunately we have one in the White House right now. But we don't do ourselves any favors by stating that the Koran itself promotes terrorism, and that anyone who is a Muslim wants the world to be run by Sharia law. If you look carefully at the Bible, there are lots of dated and outrageous statements which no good Christian would incorporate into their lives today.

I have been fortunate to have many Pakistani Muslim friends, who are American citizens, who are patriots. Most if them are conservatives, too, and quite closely aligned with the Objectivist philosophy. They are disturbed and alienated by the kind of prejudice I heard last night. And they are voting with their votes and their substantial campaign donations. So am I.
Those themes are common, and I wanted to lay out my own view. So here's my reply, slightly edited. I could have done better, rhetorically speaking. Still, I think that I articulated my own position reasonably well.
Islam is a chosen religion, not a race. So it's not "racism" to criticize Islam or Muslims, any more than it's racism to criticize Christianity or to regard theocratic Christians as a major threat to liberty in the America. It's not proper to discriminate based on race, because race is unchosen, and has nothing to do with moral character. Religion is chosen, and has a huge impact on a person's character, values, and actions. A person should be judged for his chosen religion, not given a free pass.

As for how many Muslims are jihadists -- or support that -- that's another question. Given that Muslim violence against "the infidel" and others is not strongly and loudly condemned by Muslims in the US (and elsewhere), but instead often excused, condoned, and urged on, I can only regard most Muslims as either active or passive supporters of violent jihad. In contrast, that's not true of Christians in America. While the political views of most Americans are influenced (for the worse) by Christianity, most American Christians oppose attempts to impose sectarian dogmas by law, and they deplore violence. That's because Christianity, unlike Islam, has been tempered by the Enlightenment. (Alas, that's disappearing slowly...)

Muslims opposed to violent jihad are disobeying the explicit commands of their religion. If that's their true view, however, then they ought to stand up and say that, particularly given the barbaric acts of their fellow adherents. But they're almost entirely silent. Hence, the rest of us are entitled to assume that they really don't have a huge problem with fellow Muslims blowing up Jewish children, murdering daughters for being too western, executing gays, stoning rape victims, killing apostates, and so on.

Of course, if you know particular Muslims who support American values... that's AWESOME. However, just as with Christians, those Muslims ought to abandon their religious beliefs, because they're wholly incompatible with any concern or respect for individual rights.

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