IN AN ARTICLE in the Huffington Post, Nancy Graham Holm wrote one of the most idiotic articles I've seen in awhile, and she did it with an appalling degree of arrogance. The article is entitled, Three Questions to Ask Geert Wilders About Anti-Islam Hate Speech. Her point is that when Geert Wilders talks about Islam, he only causes problems and doesn't help anything.
Holm takes it for granted that limiting (or God forbid, STOPPING) Muslim immigration to a Western nation is such a ridiculous notion it is not even worth arguing about. Wilders has suggested in many times, and with good reason, but she dismisses it as an idea unworthy of consideration.
She first says that some Muslims out there are so "short-fused" that they "would rather kill and be killed than tolerate Wilders' brutal humiliation." When I read that, it startled me. I am in the middle of reading Unbroken right now, the true story of an American captured by the Japanese in World War II. He was deliberately starved for years, tortured, brutally beaten almost every day, and intentionally humiliated. THAT was brutal humiliation. A politician talking about the hate-filled passages of Islamic texts may be insulting, but "brutal humiliation" goes way overboard. That was in her first paragraph.
It gets worse.
Her grasp of Islamic doctrine is basically non-existent, and yet she writes about the issue with a condescending arrogance that defies comprehension. She mentions an opinion piece Wilders wrote wherein he suggests outlawing the Koran in the Netherlands. "Mein Kampf" is outlawed, says Wilders, because of its Jew hatred. If the Dutch are to be consistent, then, the Koran should be outlawed.
Nancy Graham Holm, of course, thinks this is "provocative" and clearly believes the allegations are preposterous. Of course, she doesn't have a clue about the work of Bill Warner, who simply counted up how many incidents of Jew hatred are in Islamic texts and Mein Kampf. What did he find? There is far MORE Jew hatred in Islamic texts than Mein Kampf, so Wilders has a point and Holm should be embarrassed. Check out the proportions:
Another provocative thing Wilders said was that Muhammad was a "barbarian, a mass murderer and a pedophile." According to Islamic history, and using our modern definitions of barbarism, mass murder, and pedophilia, Wilders is simply stating a fact. She is assuming it can't possibly be true (or that facts that some would consider provocative should not be spoken in public, in which case Holm should be silent because she is definitely provoking me).
I agree with her about one thing, though. It would be a terrible thing to say if it weren't true. However, she could easily discover for herself that Wilders is speaking accurately. The information is available in every bookstore. The information is not difficult to find at all. It is not a secret. And it can be found in Islamic texts themselves, not mean non-Muslims writing about Islam in order to denigrate it.
It sometimes feels as if I'm in a crazy world where someone can write an article ABOUT Islam without knowing the first thing about Islam, all the while criticizing someone who knows a lot about Islam, and criticizing what he says about Islam! And all this published in a well-known, well-respected, mainstream magazine, who no doubt have fact-checkers on staff. How does this happen? How is it possible? Have I fallen into a rabbit hole and don't know it?
Holm writes, "Geert Wilders does not acknowledge the profound reform movement that is under way in contemporary Islam." I have been studying and writing about Islam for ten years. While I am aware of some Islamic reformers, characterizing it as a "profound reform movement" is stretching it. The problem, which Holm is apparently unaware of, is that "reforming" Islam means to deny or reject a substantial amount of basic Islamic doctrine such as the 527 unabrogated passages in the Koran advocating intolerance or violence toward non-Muslims, or the 91 passages telling Muslims they must take Muhammad as an example (a "beautiful pattern of conduct"), which means a reformer who would wish to create an Islam that is no longer a threat to non-Muslims would have to seriously edit the Koran or seriously edit the Sunnah and Hadith, which are mostly about Muhammad's egregious example. And such editing is strictly forbidden since the Koran is the word of Allah.
In her final two paragraphs, she asks four questions of Wilders. I will answer them here. Wilders can probably answer them better and I hope he does, but here's mine:
1. Does your hate speech produce physical or mental suffering or does it increase safety and quality of life? By the way, she asks these questions with a self-satisfaction which I'm sure makes her feel as if she "won her case."
There is a presupposition in her question, sort of like asking, "Do you still beat your wife?" I have listened to many speeches by Wilders and he doesn't do "hate speech." And in his first movie, Fitna, which created so much controversy, all the "hate speech" in the movie is done by Islamic doctrine and Muslims themselves.
But let's set that aside and answer her question, put in my language: Do Geert Wilders' speeches produce suffering or does it increase safety and quality of life? Answer: If he was heeded, it would increase safety.
2. Have you considered the available alternatives and compared them in terms of benefit to harm ratio? Yes.
3. Which alternative produces the best ratio? Making accurate knowledge widespread.
4. What good can come of Wilders saying the things he does? If people listened to him, they would have a better grasp of the real situation (rather than the situation we might wish for), and if there is a problem to be solved (and there is) a good place to start is with the facts.