THE FOLLOWING is an article published on Jihad Watch by Ronald Shirk, entitled, When Islam is Just "Stuff White People Like." I thought Shirk really nailed it when he said, "They wanted excuses not to become alarmed, and they wished above all to sound like the voices of reason against the 'alarmism' spread by 'jingoists' and 'militarists' like Winston Churchill." That's it! That's exactly what we're up against in one sentence! I think it really helps to understand what underlies the incomprehensible refusal to listen to simple facts when talking to some people. Here's the article:
It's hard for most of us who have already had our individual epiphanies on the subject of Islam to understand why so many of the very communities targeted for the worst abuse by sharia seem least willing to acknowledge the nature of the threat. Perhaps the comparison I've drawn with the phenomenon of anti-anti-Communism helps make today's self-willed blindness less surprising.
Reading the historical record, it is shocking how slow one key community was to awaken to the Communist threat: Christian clergymen. As Paul Kengor documents in Dupes, elite, mainline Protestant clerics served as a particularly gullible audience and important transmission belt for Soviet propaganda in the West. A number of prominent ministers, led by Soviet friendly professors like Corliss Lamont, embarked on subsidized cruises to the new utopia, and returned to America or Britain to discredit the truthful reports of religious persecution in Russia. After carefully arranged visits to Potemkin villages and rigidly controlled tours of select districts in Leningrad or Moscow, these veal-calves in collars would disembark in New York to tell the respectable press to disregard all the (factual) reports that Soviet Russia was persecuting Christians.
To some degree, these clergymen's attitudes may have reflected class, ethnic, and denominational bias; low-church, progressive ministers trained at Yale Divinity School or the Union Theological Seminary had little or no use anyway for bearded monks whose ceremonies were for them an embarrassing relic of Christianity's superstitious past. Such ministers, whose theological uncertainties had been neatly replaced by Social Gospel dogmas, were much more sympathetic to secular progressives like the atheist John Dewey (for years the leading dupe in America) than to exiled clerics with wild tales of labor camps and NKVD killing squads. (To some degree, the current apathy of even conservative Christians in America must stem from a similar distaste for "foreign," "archaic" forms of faith such as Assyrian Christianity in Iraq.)
More important (because it's closer to the surface of consciousness) is the fact that many Western Christians today are deeply concerned about burnishing their credentials as good progressives, and distinguishing themselves from a) low-status, intellectually non-respectable Evangelical Christians, and b) low-status, ethnically intolerant working class Americans. In other words, their embrace of foreign clerics with alien religions is just a niche form of urban white snobbery. It's akin to the behavior of an Upper West Side Manhattanite who preens about his cosmopolitanism by only seeing foreign films and overpronouncing words like Neek-a-ROU-gua.
Of course, this political form of social climbing extends beyond our poshest neighborhoods and out into the Heartland. My favorite recent example of it appears in a town I'd never heard of, Norman, Oklahoma. There, Margarita Banos-Milton of St. Stephen's United Methodist Church is sponsoring a gabfest on "religious intolerance toward Muslims," featuring such luminaries as
Muneer Awad, executive director of the [Hamas-linked] Council on American-Islamic Relations, Oklahoma City chapter; Malaka Elyazgi, a Muslim who serves on the University of Oklahoma's Women's and Gender Studies board of directors; Michael Korenblit, co-founder and president of the Respect Diversity Foundation of Oklahoma; and Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City. ... [As Banos-Milton said,] "I personally am deeply concerned about the misinformation, the heated emotion and blanket rejection of the Muslim faith. We have such wonderful Muslim brothers and sisters."
Kay Antinoro, St. Stephen's director of educational ministries, said the interfaith gatherings are designed for people seeking a better understanding of other faiths and their own faith.
"This round table is an important affirmation of our church's respect for religious difference and an opportunity to offer another voice in a culture of misunderstanding, fear and hatred," Antinoro said.
You have it all right there: Ms. Banos-Milton is keen to display her post-Christian virtues of "deep concern," and the "wonderful Muslim brothers and sisters" whom she parades like adopted pets. Her colleague, Kay Antinoro is fluffing her church's peacock tail of "respect for religious difference." Could there be a religion on earth with less respect for "religious difference" than Islam? Not since Jim Jones handed out the Kool-Aid in the (leftist Christian) People's Temple. But what we need to remember is that appeasement of Islam really isn't about the Muslims, any more than it is about the victims of Islam around the world. Religious dupes of the Communists weren't really concerned what was going on in Russia, either — or else they would have displayed more intellectual honesty than to accept without question the bromides dispensed by their hosts on foreign junkets. In much the same way, war-weary Englishmen in the 1930s weren't interested in what was really happening in the Sudetenland or Poland. They wanted excuses not to become alarmed, and they wished above all to sound like the voices of reason against the "alarmism" spread by "jingoists" and "militarists" like Winston Churchill.
When people swallow blatant lies, when they shut their eyes to so much evidence, only to maintain an intellectual position that raises their social status and makes them feel better about themselves, we don't need to wonder hard or wonder long why they prove immune to fresh evidence and solid arguments. Indeed, the more alarming facts an "Islamophobe" presents to such a person, the more violence you adduce and ugly connections you present, the crasser and more unpleasant you'll seem to him. You represent all the realities he doesn't wish to face. You're the oncologist who has spotted him smoking, the rehabilitated junkie who saw the needle fall out of his knapsack. You represent narrow, ugly, frightening thoughts; in effect, you become (in Freudian terms) the Id he'd rather pretend does not exist. So he'll repress all the information you try to pass on to him, the better to convince himself of his own high-mindedness. In fact, you'll become the scapegoat for whatever anxieties you've provoked — which explains why Oklahoma Methodists like these really do believe that the threat to religious tolerance in the West arises from...Christians.
Some people can't be reached. But many can if you do it skillfully. Here are some resources to help you:
Focus on the Undecided
How to Approach a Conversation About Islam
How to Think Outside the Persuasion Box
Talk About Islam Among Non-Muslims