Personal Journeys Toward Difficult Truths


The article below is written by Elsa (Dr Elsa Schieder, PhD). She told us about what she's doing and we think it's a great idea. So we asked her if she would write something for our readers. Here it is:

The year, 2006. Something did not make sense to me. Utterly massive outrage by Muslims about a Danish cartoon when there was no Muslim outrage about the murder of over 10,000 Muslims by Muslims in Baghdad in just one year. And something else did not make sense: the widespread Western acquiescence to the outrage.

I have so much to say about what I learned between 2006 and 2012. Most of all, I learned how hard it is to reach most people. My students — I long was a college prof teaching Humanities — insisted on seeing Islam as a religion of peace, even in the face of massive Muslim violence, including to other Muslims. I also learned to face inner fears of speaking about what I was learning and figuring out about Islam. Fatwas are real things.

But how to reach people? Over and over I heard words like Islamophobe and racist used for people — including me — who did not accept the official version of Islam as a religion of peace.

But I've had a lifelong concern with human rights. I grew up believing in the equality of women and men, and of people of different races. As a young adult, I learned to also deeply believe in the equality of people of all sexual orientations. Basically, it harms people if we are not given equal rights, an equal chance to flourish.

So where was this name-calling coming from? I remembered the name-calling of feminists — bra-burners, man-haters — when the struggle was for equal rights for women.

But how to get people to see that the name-calling was out of place? That it was a barrier to seeing?

Fast forward to April 2012.

I suddenly had an idea: interviews with people prominent in the struggle to show the facts. Facts about Islamic religious texts (Qu'ran, Sira, Hadiths), about the strands of Islam, and about the wide range of Muslims. Facts about the Western response to Islam and Islamic pressures.

But I wasn't interested in creating one more place for the facts.

My interest: Personal Journeys Toward Difficult Truths: Understanding Islam, Understanding the West. I cared about us as people — people caring and daring, people facing fears, searching and speaking.

I remember how much I loved Uncle Tom's Cabin as a child. I identified with Tom, a slave sold over and over into ever more brutal conditions.

My desire: to make us come alive as people, just as Uncle Tom became alive to me. I've met quite a number of the people who have given so much to spread awareness of Islam, and to present facts. I've listened to and read the works of others. I've been impressed by what caring and courageous people they are.

I set up a website, invited people. So many amazing people agreed to be interviewed. Bat Ye'or, sometimes called the mother of us all. Robert Spencer. Mark Durie.

What do I want from you? Come to the website. Register for the teleseminar series — FREE. Experience us as people. Hear our stories, what we learned, what's happening with us now.

When is the event? It starts September 17, 2012. It will go on for 2 weeks.

What else might I want? Tell others about it.

There's a famous quote — the truth shall set you free. This is the truth about us as people.


Dr Elsa Schieder, PhD

PS. If you'd like to know a bit more about me and my journey, here are a couple of links:


Damon Whitsell 6:14 AM  

Hi CW,, I really like Miss Elsa'a project here,, and so thankful many well knowns in the counter-Jihad movement are sharing there stories. It inspires me in a new project I started two days ago call

Here is some info, and once I get finished in about a week, I ask you to please help promote the project. This is text for a small survey I posted in varying places to see if I should do the project.

In the style of the Mormons,, "I'm a Mormon" campaign (although I'm not a Mormon),, I decided to start and "I'm an Islamophobe (and here's why)" campaign.

Imagine if every time you see "Islamophobes" mis-characterized online, you could say..."This is BS, that is not what 'islamophobes' are like or think - in fact here is a site with hundreds of 'islamophbes' telling you how they became islamophobic, what they think it means to be an islamophobe - and why you should be one too: see".

My goals are lofty. Please tell me if I'm being reasonable. I would like this to be much more than just a site, I would like to start a movement within the counter-jihad movement to neutralize the thought terminating cliche islamophobia by making it kool and trendy to be an islamophobe (heros to the few now, heros to many in the future).

Studying christian cults I learned that language can be used as a thought and mind control device. Often times Christian terms are redefined and new terms specific for each group are created. You can see this in the media as they redefine and create terms. One of the biggest example is how tolerance has been redefined. To tolerate something, you have to not fully agree with it - so you tolerate it's presence in the public arena. But today most people think that to be and speak against anything,,, is being intolerant. But criticism does not mean intolerance according to the old definition, but it does today in the public mind. So we have to do what we can to neutralize the culture war that is being fought with redefined and created thought terminating words and phrases.

What I have in mind is to write a longer personal testimony, do a video of how I became an islamophobe and a video to ask other islamophes to share and tell how they got infected with the good infection. I want to write a general outline/loose script for videos and text testimonies (so they will all be similar but different like the Mormons do in their campaign) and ask others to submit their testimonies.

For Eric Allen Bell, the impetus to look at Islam again was a talk with a christian coptic cab driver. For me it was the Muslim reaction, worldwide and online, to Terry Jones's Burn a Koran Day. I think testimonies that point out these flash points at the very beginning, will be powerful.

Besides text and video testimony, I will feature and write articles on islamophobia that are favorable, and will also try to start a support group for wounded islamophobes to tell their stories to other islamopobes. Many drop out of counter-jihad due to the stress and things that happen to them for speaking on Islam. I dropped out for about 6 months after I lost all my friends and someone went on a "Damon wants to kill every Muslim on the planet" campaign, I also had other stuff happen. I have long dreamed of a place for islamophobes to emtionally support other islamophobes. I'm going to start that off slow with just threaded comments on a page,, but can integrate a forum later of needed.


Damon Whitsell 6:14 AM  


SO WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK? I am asking to get a feel as to whether I should make this possible movement my main focus or not. Do you think we could effectively neutralize the term, over time, if we get enough islamophobes to speak up and share - and that one determined man like me could make it happen?

I guess most importantly would be,,, how many of you would be willing to share a text or video testimony,,, and promote the cause?

Please remember the domain name and go to the site and make any suggestions!!!

I still have allota text to write up for the site, I have to do my longer text testimony, a loose script for testimonies, my video testimony, a promotional video for the project, graphics for the featured post slider (which is now hidden) and a promotional hotlinked graphic back to the site for promotion from other sites. As soon as I get the new project up and going well,, I'll be asking everyone everywhere to testify and promote the site in hopes of causing a movement that will render the myth of Islamophobia as harmless as possible.

I'll be back in a week or so and hope I can get you to post to your readers about my new project and goal.

Damon Whitsell

Elsa 12:07 PM  

Hi Damon,

A huge ambitious project.

And I agree, it's important to redefine Islamophobe, from something that says something negative about us, to something that says something positive about us. It makes sense to pull away from, to recoil from, to fear something dangerous.

On the other hand, the word phobia refers to an irrational overresponse - someone may be phobic about flying or spiders, etc.

So I both applaud your project and know I'm not at ease with the word.

With feminism, I never accepted the term "man-hater", levelled at so many feminists. Feminist, yes - meaning for equal rights for women and men.

I'm trying to find a term that works well for me. Islam-recognizer?

Suggestions very welcome.

My big comment - I like the concept of a site which is about the awakening to awareness of the content of the Qu'ran, of the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

Damon Whitsell 1:41 PM  

THANK YOU Elsa,, I really like your project and I think it kinda goes with mine. I was thinking whether or not to approach big names (I know Eric Allen Bell and another biggie pretty well) to ask to give their testimonies. But I was unsure because there is allot of presuppositional baggage with their names,, and I am already fight enough presupposition. So I will probably just link to your project to help get their stories out that way.

Please ask them what was the flash point, the exact thing that made them look into Islam (if they have one),, for instance it was 911 for so many and the Burn A Koran day for me.

I think testimonies that start off with this information right upfront will be effective to grasp peoples attention.

"There is really not anything evil or racist about me,, it's just that THIS THING (what ever it was) happened and caused me to look into Islam,, and I have been concerned and called an Islamophobe ever since"

I'll keep an eye on your project,, as subbed to your site and wish you the best. THANK YOU, for doing something!!!

Elsa 9:40 PM  

Thanks for caring, and maybe doing your own project. All the best to all of us, Elsa

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Really liking this idea Elsa, its exactly what i believe is missing in the counterjihad.

The story must become more personal to people. Not just, see and forget.


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