Should We Feel Anger at Those Still Unacquainted With Islam?

Monday

In correspondence with a reader, I wrote: "Over the years, we've had discussions on various things on Citizen Warrior, trying to figure out how to speak about the problem of Islam. One of the things we've talked about is what to call non-Muslims who think Islam is a religion of peace. We had a lively discussion about it here." Here is his response:

What to call Non-Muslims who think Islam is a Religion of Peace...we could call them: Aloof. Here's an example: "the Aloofs were back at it again. They were talking about how we can all just get along and as I stood there listening to them I realized that these people are just Aloof. They have no desire to save themselves or to fight back, so we must do it for them. The Aloofs venture loudly into the world, sharing their propaganda with the other Non-Muslims who are quite aware what Islam is all about. But the Aloof's persist that Islam is good...

OR

I would just call those people "Islamic Sympathizers". To be honest we are facing the prelude to the massive extermination of Non-Muslims. So if some of the Non-Muslims want to be willingly ignorant and believe that Islam is "Peaceful" it really comes down to responsibility and we need to make them aware of that.

Example: If I was given the chance to warn people about Nazi Germany and tell them how horrific it was going to be I would call everyone who supported Hitler (supporting Hitler by being ignorant) a Sympathizer.

I conclude then that we need to not mock these "Aloofs", but lay the burden of mature responsibility on them, meaning that being "Aloof" about the most bigoted religion on earth is no longer an option for excuse.

I responded to him with this: Your point of view is fairly common in the counterjihad community and I'm glad you said it because I want to articulate something that has been crystallizing in my mind for quite some time.

Both the words "Aloof" and "Sympathizer" make the person wrong. But many people have benign reasons for believing Islam is not dangerous. Many of the non-Muslims unacquainted with Islam are good people — smart people who care about the world and love their country. Their hearts are in the right place. Not all of them, of course, but certainly many of them. Probably most of the ones we talk to.

They have simply made some assumptions about Islam (and about religions and about human beings) that might normally be reasonable, but they're incorrect when it comes to Islam. They assume because it is a religion with a huge number of adherents, it couldn't possibly be the evil Nazi-like ideology the counterjihadists portray it to be. It COULDN'T be! Right?

And of course, any given person you're talking to probably knows several Muslims who are "nice people." From their point of view, it seems reasonable to conclude that the terrorism going on in the world is caused by a few crazy extremists giving Islam a bad name.

Most people unacquainted with Islam don't know the immense scale and global scope of "terrorist attacks." Most people hear about only a very small percentage of the attacks that happen every day in the name of Islam. And besides, "other religions also have bad things in their holy books," and so on. You've heard it all before. Most people would think this naturally (that it must be just a few extremists), as a result of plain old human decency and an acquaintance with other religions like Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity. And then the media and politicians and Islamic "experts" all confirm what we all wish was true. PBS, one of the most trusted media sources in the U.S., has reinforced this misleading portrait of Islam (read more about that here).

Probably none of our non-Muslim friends and family are terrorist sympathizers. And if they thought they were really in danger, they might, in fact, have the desire to fight back and save themselves. But they have been persuaded to believe (and they really want to believe) that we are not in danger from Islam. I don't think most of them are "willingly ignorant." They have an enormous amount of mainstream, seemingly authoritative evidence from most major information sources to confirm what they hope is true.

The article I mentioned above and ensuing discussion eventually concluded that the best word for non-Muslims who think Islam is a religion of peace is "unacquainted." Your portrayal of those unacquainted with Islam is negatively judgmental, which is completely understandable because you've obviously tried doing what all of us should be doing: talking with people and telling them what you've learned. And you have no doubt experienced the particular distaste of listening to someone sarcastically or condescendingly tell you how wrong you are — knowing that this person actually knows nothing about Islam — while talking to you, who knows quite a lot about it. It is frustrating. Infuriating! I get it. I've been there. And so have most of the people in the counterjihad movement.

But I think it would be helpful to our cause if we considered it as much our failure as theirs. If we truly understood their point of view, and if we had some acquirable skill in influencing people, that same conversation might well have ended with a new ally for our cause. Instead, we have entrenched that person more firmly in their position. We have failed. That point right there is where we will win or lose this whole, centuries-long conflict with Islam — right there in those "minor" personal conversations where people are either won over or shoved deeper into their self-righteous point of view (which unwittingly aids and abets the enemy).

Any of us can get better at those conversations. We can become more influential. And if we don't, it is we who have been negligent and irresponsible. We should consider ourselves lucky that we have been raised in a way or exposed to information in a way that we've been able to know the truth about the problem of Islam. We shouldn't consider them to be willfully ignorant. There, but for the luck of the draw, is what you or I would be. And for many of us in the counterjihad, that is exactly what we were at one point.

I was totally ignorant of Islam until after 9/11. I didn't know anything about it, and never even wondered about it, even though jihad has been going on my entire life. With the Israel/Palestine conflict. With the oil crisis. With the Iranian hostages. With all the hijacked airplanes, attacks on embassies, etc. I never put it together. I never would have guessed that a religion could teach something that would motivate people to do these things. I would have scoffed at the idea if anyone had told me. Not because I was a "sympathizer." Not because I was "willingly" ignorant, although I guess you could call me that, but it seems an unfair indictment. And I would fight back to save myself. I just didn't know there was anything to save myself from.

And I think when we talk to someone who is unacquainted with Islam, we would be more effective reaching them and successfully opening their eyes to this horrifying reality (Islamic doctrine) if we didn't think of them as bad people, as irresponsible people, as traitors or sympathizers with enemies, or anything derogatory. I think we'd have more luck reaching them if we loved them. Or at least understood their point of view, and understood how they came to those conclusions.

I urge everyone to read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. It will help us all understand their point of view. It will help us get through. Here are some summaries and reviews of the book:

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.

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It's Okay to Have (and Express) a Political Opinion. Duh.

Friday

When you say something negative about Islamic doctrine, many people assume you hate Muslims and then you are dismissed as a "hater." If this ever comes up in a conversation, try turning it around. Say something like, "I don't hate Muslim people. I dislike a political ideology. Isn't there a political ideology you dislike?"

Stay with that question until they give you the name of a political ideology they don't like (there must be at least one). Then ask them, "Okay, do you hate everybody who subscribes to that ideology? Do you hate everyone who lives in a country ruled by that political doctrine?" Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

Make this distinction clear in their minds. You can have an opinion about a political doctrine without hating members who believe in that doctrine or are subject to it. It's not a problem. Those two are quite distinct.

Now, if the person you're talking to doesn't realize Islam is a political doctrine, share this little fact:

Fifty-one percent of the Koran is about non-Muslims. Writings about what Muslims should do is religious. Writings about what non-Muslims should do or how Muslims should deal with non-Muslims is political. Therefore, based on the written content of Islam's most holy book, Islam is more political (51%) than religious (49%).

Read more about that fact here: Statistics and the Meaning of Islam.

We should all be freely talking about Islam. It's okay to have a political opinion. Liberals freely and harshly criticize conservative doctrine. And conservatives freely and harshly criticize liberal doctrine. Sharing a political opinion is a freedom we all rightfully enjoy in a free society. Non-Muslims should feel just as free to criticize Islamic doctrine.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.

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Informed and Determined

I'm re-reading the book, Terrorist Hunter by Rita Katz, a Jewish woman who grew up in Iraq (and speaks fluent Arabic) and became a researcher for The Investigative Project, dressing like a Muslim woman to infiltrate orthodox Islamic groups operating in America. You can read more about her fascinating story here.

A passage from the book illustrates both the blatant boldness of Islamic groups in the West and the pathetic ignorance of Western media about basic Islamic principles and history. Katz was participating in a rally (dressed as a Muslim) in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. Two thousand protesters showed up. Journalists showed up too, of course.

Katz listened to hate speeches and "exhortations to violence against Jews." Not Israelis, mind you. Jews. One of the speakers at the rally was Dr. Ayman Sirajuldeen, a member of the Muslim American Society, who led the crowd in chanting, "Death to Jews!" and "Khaibar, Khaibar!"

"Did the journalists gathered here know how chilling this was?" asks Katz in her book. "Obviously not," she answers. "In the next day's papers it got written up as a 'peaceful pro-Palestinian rally.'"

"Kaibar, Khaibar" was chanted at that rally and "many others," writes Katz. "It echoed all over the country, as Israeli flags burned in the background, from Florida to Texas, New York to California, and back to Washington, DC. To an outsider, this chant, 'Khaibar, Khaibar, Ya Yahud, Jaish Muhammad Safayood,' sounded perhaps like a cheerful freedom song. Many journalists told me that this was what they thought they were hearing. But its meaning is somewhat different: 'Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming for you.' This song originates in a tale from the days of the Prophet Muhammad. As part of his campaign to conquer the Arabian peninsula, Muhammad laid siege to the city of Khaibar, which was inhabited by Jews. After losing several battles to the city's powerful army, Muhammad decided to try a new tactic. He sent emissaries to Khaibar's leaders with a message of peace. As soon as a peace treaty was signed and the gates of the city were opened, Jaish Muhammad, Muhammad's army, stormed the city and butchered every last one of its inhabitants. 'Khaibar, Khaibar' means, 'Let's trick the Jews into making peace with us, and when they accept our offer, let's go ahead and kill them all.'"

Do the journalists know this bit of Islamic history? Do they know that it says 91 times in the Koran that Muslims are required to follow Muhammad's example in every particular? I doubt if one in a thousand knows even that much.

Those of us who have been awakened to the terrifying brilliance of Islam need to step up our game. Our educational campaign needs to be effective and unrelenting. We're in a race against time. Orthodox Muslims are infiltrating and multiplying. The only thing that can put a stop to them is an informed and determined population of non-Muslims. And the only way our fellow non-Muslims are going to be informed is by hearing it from those who already know. That's us. They're not going to hear it at school, in the media, or from politicians. It's just us.

But we've got to be smart about this, not simply passionate. We have to think in terms of small bits and long campaigns. We have to gain and maintain rapport. And we should use the effective tools we have at our disposal. If we do this, we can win.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.

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An Important Difference Between You and Your Friends

Thursday

Sometimes when you talk to people about Islam, you are flabbergasted at the depth of their ignorance. But even after they know something about Islam and accept it, sometimes you are appalled at their seeming apathy about it. Why don't they jump in and want to do something about it? Are they stupid? Are they uncaring? What is wrong with these people!?

I believe we have discovered an important difference between those of us in the counterislamization movement and those who have not joined the fight: We are seeking two different kinds of happiness.

One kind of happiness is temporary and, from our point of view, superficial: Pleasure and comfort. To pursue this kind of happiness, you pay a lot of attention to how you feel, what you want, how nice your clothes are, how tasty your food is, how comfortable your car is to drive (or how it makes you feel to own it), etc. When you overhear conversations among these people, don't you sometimes want to say, "What's the matter with you people? Don't you know there's a war on! Right now innocent people are being beheaded! Who cares about a new restaurant!?"

If you can relate to that unspoken sentiment, you probably care more about the other kind of happiness — a kind of happiness that is long-lasting and profound: Meaning. Most of us in the counterislamization movement gain happiness by working for a cause outside of our own skin. Helping other people. Living a life of meaning and purpose. Doing something that matters. The happiness this gives is a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction. Not comfort. Not pleasure.

Here's why this distinction is important for our purposes: When you talk to people about Islam — people who are not meaning-oriented — what you are presenting is discomfort. They want to turn away. It does not make them happy. And learning more about it will make them even less happy.

I think that's why I've had so much success educating people in personal conversations about Islam lately: A while back I switched from trying to recruit them into the cause and started focusing on just informing them, but doing it in way that "entertains" them (or at least interests them and preferably surprises and fascinates them). People with a pleasure-comfort orientation don't mind being entertained and interested and fascinated. And the information still sinks in. And when it comes time to vote or choose or decide, they will be more informed and will make saner choices.

I don't think we need to try to recruit people. I think we only need to inform people. And those who are like us — people who care about meaning and purpose, people who want to be profoundly happy and fulfilled by serving a cause — will come forward on their own. They will seek out more information. They will feel called to action.

Think about this as you talk to people. The person you're talking to might derive their happiness primarily from pleasure and comfort. Talking to them angrily about a frightening reality might not get through to them. Trying to wake them up by showing them a video of mass beheadings will make them not ever want to talk to you again.

For these people, and they are the majority, a different approach is needed. With an entertaining or interesting or even fascinating approach, they won't shut you out and solid information has a chance to sink in.

We have tools here to help you change the nature of your conversations. And you can read some of the conversations I've had here to see some of the things I've tried. And if you have stories of your own, I encourage you to share them with all of us at Talk About Islam Among Non-Muslims.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here.

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Going Clear and the Truth About Islam

Friday

We just watched the movie, Going Clear, a documentary on Scientology, and we were again struck by some of the similarities between Scientology and Islam. For example, if someone leaves Scientology, they are considered an enemy of the religion and in Scientology's written doctrine, they are labeled "fair game," which means they can be "deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued, lied to, or destroyed." Read more about it here.

Certainly this is a far cry from burning apostates alive or beheading them, but it is still an unusually aggressive response against apostates.

Another similarity is that Scientology, like Islam, tends to paint itself as the underdog, an effective way to simultaneously unite believers together and disarm unbelievers. Scientology and Islam both attack those who criticize their religion and try to suppress negative information, and they do it in similar ways. Scientology tried to smear the filmmakers, for example, in an effort to discredit the film (read more about that here). And they tried to prevent the film from being shown (read about it here).

The documentary is based on a book by Pulitzer Prize Winner Lawrence Wright, who also wrote an exposé on Al-Qaeda entitled, The Looming Tower. Going Clear is driven largely by interviews with people who were in Scientology for a long time and sometimes held high rankings within the organization, but who have left the religion. It was very well done and interesting throughout. Wouldn't it be great to have a similar documentary about Islam, just as well done and just as straightforward?

A point we've made repeatedly is that a useful strategy, when talking to others about Islam, is to switch to talking about Scientology when you meet resistance. People have no problem listening to criticisms of Scientology. You can then follow up with similar comments about Islam, and you can often avoid resistance because why shouldn't you be able to criticize any religion as freely as you can criticize Scientology?

Recently I've talked to people about Going Clear, and then as an aside, when I mentioned something about Scientology's policy toward apostates, for example, I point out that it is a similar but milder version of Islam's policy. It is an easy way to slip some solid information into someone's mind without much resistance. Whenever you criticize Scientology, you never hear any objections like, "But isn't that just a small minority of extremists?" or, "What you're saying is racist," or, "Are you a Scientolophobe?" People are completely at ease with even harsh criticism of Scientology. We can use that to our advantage. Learn more about this approach here: Scientology and Islam.

In the last scene of the film, one of the interviewees was asked why she was speaking up about Scientology (and potentially exposing herself to harassment and danger). She said simply, "I just want the truth to be known." That's how we feel about exposing Islam for what it is.

Citizen Warrior is the author of the book, Getting Through: How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam and also writes for Inquiry Into Islam, History is Fascinating, and Foundation for Coexistence. Subscribe to Citizen Warrior updates here. You can send an email to CW here

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Article Spotlight

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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