The Importance of Blasphemy

Monday

The following was written by Daniel Greenfield, creator of the Sultan Knish blog. He makes a vital point: We need to allow blasphemy. The only religion threatening violence against blasphemers is Islam, and so if we wish to keep the freedom of expression which is so vital to all the other freedoms we cherish, blaspheming against Islam is not just a good idea, but necessary. 

As a deeply religious person, I have no fondness for blasphemy. My religion and its holy books are sacred to me. And I understand perfectly well why a Muslim would not relish a cartoon of a naked Mohammed.

But the debates over freedom of speech and the sensitivity of religious feelings also miss the point.

Blasphemy is the price we pay for not having a theocracy. Muslims are not only outraged but baffled by the Mohammed cartoons because they come from a world in which Islamic law dominates their countries and through its special place proclaims the superiority of Islam to all other religions.

Almost all Muslim countries are theocracies of one sort or another as a legacy of the Islamic conquests which Islamized them.

Egyptian President Sisi’s gesture of attending a Coptic mass was so revolutionary because it challenged the idea that Egyptian identity must be exclusively Islamic.

And Egypt is far from the most hard line of Islamic countries in the Middle East, despite a brief takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of Obama’s Arab Spring.

In a theocracy, not only is government Islamic from the top down, but society is also Islamic from the bottom up.

Citizenship is linked to religion and even in countries such as Egypt, where non-Muslims may be citizens, there are fundamental restrictions in place that link Islamic identity to Egyptian citizenship. For example, Egyptian Muslims who attempt to convert to Christianity have found it extremely difficult to have the government recognize their change of religion by issuing them new identification cards.

While we may think of blasphemy in terms of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, each religion is mutually blasphemous.

Muslims argue that the West should “respect prophets” by outlawing insults to Mohammed and a panoply of prophets gathered from Judaism and Christianity. But the Islamic view of Jesus is equally blasphemous to Christianity. And Islam considers Christianity’s view of Jesus to be blasphemous.

If we were to truly prosecute blasphemy, the legal system would have to pick a side between the two religions and either prosecute Christians for blaspheming against Islam or Muslims for blaspheming against Christianity. And indeed in Muslim countries, Christians are frequently accused of blasphemy.

Malaysia’s blasphemy laws were used to ban Christians from employing the word “Allah” for god and to seize children’s books depicting Noah and Moses. The reason for seizing the children’s books was the same as the reason for the attack on Charlie Hebdo; both were featuring cartoons of prophets.

While Charlie Hebdo pushed the outer limits of blasphemy, every religion that is not Islam, and even various alternative flavors of Islam, are also blasphemous.

It isn’t only secularist cartoonists who blaspheme against Islam.

“Mohammed seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure,” St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. Maimonides called him a madman.

To Bill Donohue, there may be a world of difference between Charlie Hebdo and Aquinas, but not to a Muslim.

In a multi-religious society, in which every religion has its own variant theological streams, the right to blaspheme is also the right to believe. Liberal theology can contrive interchangeable beliefs which do not contradict or claim special knowledge over any other religion. But traditionalist faiths are exclusive.

Everyone’s religion is someone else’s blasphemy. If we forget that, we need only look to Saudi Arabia, where no other religion is allowed, as a reminder.

Muslims who question freedom of speech are not calling for a special status for all religions, but only for their religion. They don’t intend to censor their own Hadiths which claim that Jesus will return and break the cross or that the apocalypse will climax with Muslims exterminating the Jews. Their objections aren’t liberal, but exclusively theocratic. They want a blasphemy law that exclusively revolves around them.

Islam relates to other religions on its terms. It grants special treatment to Christianity and Judaism, despite nevertheless persecuting them, because of their relationship to Islam. It persecutes other religions even more severely because of their greater distance from Islam. Islamic theocracies are not respectful of religion, but respectful of Islam and disrespectful of all other religions.

Religious people need not embrace the extremes of French secularism or the anti-religious positions of the ACLU to see that some distance between religion and state is a good thing for both. A separation between religion and state should not mean compulsory secularism, but at the same time it avoids the religious tests for office which existed in colonial times in states with established churches that banned Catholics, Quakers and Jews, among others, from holding political office.

A neutral state allows us to believe what we please. Islamic efforts on blasphemy however warp us all around the theology of Islam.

When governments prosecute tearing the Koran or drawing offensive cartoons under hate crime laws, they are eroding the separation between state and mosque. Their efforts, even if well intentioned, lead inevitably to a theocracy which not only hurts critics of Islam, but destroys the religious freedom of all religions.

The legal distinction between secular blasphemy and interreligious disdain disappears in a theocracy. Each religion has beliefs that offend the other, actively or passively. When one belief becomes supreme, then religious freedom vanishes, as it has throughout the Muslim world where the practice of Christianity and Judaism are governed by how closely Muslims choose to be offended at other religions.

While some religious people may take issue with the celebration of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, equating them with such things as the infamous “Piss Christ,” there’s a fundamental difference between blasphemy against the innocent and the guilty.

Piss Christ or a museum which exhibited photos of naked women dressed in Jewish ritual garments are committed against the unresisting, making them the theological equivalent of spiteful vandalism. There are no Jews or Christians murdering artists or bombing museums. By attempting to enforce the theocracy of blasphemy laws, Muslims made the Mohammed cartoons into a symbol of free speech.

It was not the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, who specialized in offending all religions, who made their Mohammed cartoons into a symbol. It was their Muslim enemies who did it by killing them. It is intellectually dishonest for Muslims to create martyrs and then complain about their martyrdom.

Blasphemy against Christianity and Judaism fizzles because the lack of a violent response makes those responsible seem like bullies. Instead of revealing flaws in those religions, works like Piss Christ or Monster Mohel reveal the flaws in their makers. Their attempts at blasphemy prove self-destructive.

Muslim violence against the Mohammed cartoons however turns them into the bullies. The Hebdo cartoons did no damage to Christianity or Judaism. They did a great deal of damage to Islam, not because they were well done, but because Islam is shot through with violent anger and insecurity.

The spiritual power of religion balances between violence and non-violence. Most religions believe that there is a time to fight, but only Islam believes in violence as the first and final religious solution.

Mohammed cartoons exist because of the Islamic inability to cope with a non-theocratic society. Islamic Cartoonophobia is not only a danger to cartoonists. It’s a threat to all of our religious freedoms.

Written by Daniel Greenfield, originally published here: The Importance of Blasphemy.

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People Should Be Able to Say What They Wish Without Being Killed For It

“This has become the flashpoint for the defense of the freedom of speech,” said Robert Spencer at the recent Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest. “These cartoons are offensive to Islam, and there is a death penalty for those who blaspheme against Muhammad. The jihadis believe that these cartoons cross the line, and those who draw them and publicize them have to be killed.

“If we believe in free speech in a free society, then we have to stand up for the right of people to offend Muslims or even subject Islam to mockery. If it were anything else, it would be the same,” he said.

Spencer said he thought some of the cartoons were “in poor taste.”

“But that’s not the point,” he said. “The point is that there are people who can say what they wish without being killed for it.

“To say that we will succumb to violent intimidation and allow ourselves to be silent in the face of it is just to encourage more violent intimidation.

“Either we knuckle under or we stand. And we are standing.”

Read more at Texas Terror: Inside Event Targeted by ISIS.

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What Does Niceness Tell You About Someone's Goals or Plans?

Tuesday

One of the employees at the company where I work is a man named Muhammad. He is originally from Ghana but he speaks excellent English. He's a really nice man. He works in a different department, but we have brief interactions once in awhile. He is helpful. Kind. Always quick to say hello and smile. I've talked to him briefly a few times, but earlier today we were alone in the break room and we got to talking about a wine tasting taking place nearby. I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more about him (he doesn't know I know anything about Islam), so I asked him, "Do you drink?"

"No, never," he said.

"Have you ever tried it?"

"No, never in my life. I'm Muslim and we don't drink." He thought for a second and then he said, "Well, some of my friends drink, but they're not supposed to. When they do, I don't do it with them."

His answer seemed to indicate that perhaps all his friends were Muslims. So, being the curious type, I asked him, "Do you have any non-Muslim friends?"

Without any seeming embarrassment or hesitation, he said, "No."

So far, this was a perfectly pleasant conversation, with no defensiveness on his part or aggression on my part. Just two people chatting.

I had to get up and go do something. When I came back, another man was talking to Muhammad, and I overheard Muhammad say, "I will do it for one of my children."

I asked him, "How many kids do you have?"

He said, "Thirteen."

I wasn't sure I heard him right, so I said, "Thirteen?!"

He looked very proud and nodded yes. He is 39 years old. It has been a very long time since I've met someone with thirteen children. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone with that many children.

Of course, all this got me to thinking. He must be somewhat devout (orthodox) if he doesn't drink and has no non-Muslim friends. Those are two clear Muslim rules (written in Islamic doctrine). I was wondering what he might be like if Muslims became the majority here in America (I was thinking of Raymond Ibrahim's Rule of Numbers). Would Muhammad stop being nice? Would he be willing to threaten me with death if I didn't convert to Islam? I don't know for certain.

Even a genuinely nice person who grew up as a Muslim might impose the choice of conversion or death (or dhimmitude), even if he and I had a cordial and pleasant relationship up to that point, because after all, if he is truly devout, he already feels quite sure I'm doomed to eternal torture in hell. But if he could force me to convert, or scare me into converting, he might think he gave me a chance to make it to paradise (which would, from his point of view, be a nice thing for him to do for me, and plus, of course, it is also a clear Muslim rule, written in Islamic doctrine that when Muslims hold the power, they should offer this choice to non-Muslims).

One of the objections in our Answers to Objections series is, "My friend is a Muslim and he's really nice." People have said this to me and I've heard from many people over the years who have heard this objection from their friends and family. The statement is usually spoken like it invalidates the facts about Islamic doctrine.

And I could say it myself: Most of the Muslims I've ever gotten to know have been very nice people. But it has also become clear to me over the years that "niceness" doesn't really mean anything. Salespeople can be very nice. Politicians are often nice. Sociopaths can be nice. A lot of people who knew Ted Bundy thought he was nice. The same was true of Adolf Hitler.

Niceness doesn't reveal anything about ideology or intent. Niceness tells us nothing about a person's goals or plans. When we are talking about the problem of Islam, niceness is literally irrelevant to the issue. Islamic doctrine says what it says, and Muslims are committed to applying that doctrine in their lives or they aren't. Some of those who are committed to applying the doctrine are nice and some are not. Niceness doesn't tell us anything of real importance.

Let's point this out to everyone who brings it up in our presence. And let's remove this barrier to seeing clearly. Once it is removed, the person you're talking to may discover that she or he really knows nothing else about Islam. And that is a great place to begin a real conversation about the problem of Islam.

This was posted on Inquiry Into Islam for your sharing pleasure here.

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One of the most unusual articles on CitizenWarrior.com is Pleasantville and Islamic Supremacism.

It illustrates the Islamic Supremacist vision by showing the similarity between what happened in the movie, Pleasantville, and what devout fundamentalist Muslims are trying to create in Islamic states like Syria, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia (and ultimately everywhere in the world).

Click here to read the article.


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