A World Religion Could Actually Be Evil

Tuesday

Qui Creva left the following comment on our article, "How to Talk to Non-Muslims About the Disturbing Nature of Islam":

This is helpful. I am a social liberal, as are most of my friends and family members. Their resistance to the idea that a large world religion could actually be evil is strong. I have read the Qur'an, several thousand ahadith, the sira of Ibn Hisham, plus many legal pronouncements from Al-Azhar University, so I know the subject.

Trying to get the danger of Islam across to uninformed individuals  who have also been steeped in cultural relativism and multiculturalism — is like trying to swim uphill. Your suggestions may help launch a meaningful conversation. Really, of all the world's religions, WHY must we make continual excuses for Islam? Why does it alone require kid-glove handling and a giant dose of tolerance? Methinks something is rotten in the state of its "sacred" doctrine, that's why.

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Use the Principle of Commitment and Consistency to Recruit Others to the Cause

Sunday

This is one of six "weapons of influence" from the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The principle says that once you have committed yourself to something, you tend to remain consistent. That is, you become resistant to changing your mind about what you believe (once you have expressed some commitment to it).

And the more you have done to express your commitment, and the more public you have made your commitment, the more resistant you are to changing your mind about it.

For example, in one experiment, researchers went around in a neighborhood and asked people if they would be willing to put a three-inch square sign in their window that said "Be a safe driver."

Two weeks later a different volunteer went through the same neighborhood and asked for something outrageous: "Would you be willing to put a billboard on your lawn supporting driver safety?"

Those who had earlier agreed to the little sign were much more likely to say yes to the billboard than people who had refused the little sign. And almost everyone who they asked to put the billboard on their front lawn who had not been asked to display the little sign refused.

In other words, once someone committed themselves a little bit to the cause by putting the little sign in their window, they were more committed to the cause. They were more willing to do something significant about it. This is the principle of commitment and consistency.

The author, Robert Cialdini, defined the principle this way:

It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.


So when you can get someone to sign a petition to stop Saudis from teaching hatred in American schools or to protect women from oppression by Islamic supremacism, the person who signs it commits herself a little to the cause.

Signing a petition is a small act. It only takes a few moments. But the act makes a person more committed to the cause in general. She or he may begin to think of herself or himself as an advocate for the cause. The petition signer will be more likely to commit to something bigger for the cause in the future when an opportunity arises.

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.

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Islam is Forcing Us to Resolve an Important Ethical Conflict

I saw a video (which you can see here) where a man and a woman were walking together in a public park, and he slaps her face. Bystanders immediately stopped him.

Then she dresses in a hijab and they do the same thing: They walk along talking, this time in Arabic, and then he stops and slaps her. You could see that other people in the park were disturbed by it, but only one man eventually intervened. Everyone else looked on, didn't like it, but didn't do anything or even say anything.

The creators of the video implied that this meant the non-Muslims didn't care as much about Muslim women as they do about non-Muslim women. But I think that conclusion is off-base.

The video illustrates a deep conflict in our culture. And our increasing contact with Muslims is bringing this conflict more and more to the forefront. We will have to resolve it. We have rarely had to confront this conflict in the past, but Islam is exceedingly good at putting non-Muslims in double binds.

This ability to put us in double binds is, I believe, one of their most effective strategic ploys, and they are exploiting it wherever they can.

In case you didn't know exactly what a double bind was, I looked up a good definition to add the link above, but I also found this telling statement in the explanation: "Double binds are often utilized as a form of control without open coercion — the use of confusion makes them both difficult to respond to as well as to resist."

Islam is not strong enough and Muslims in most non-Muslim countries are not numerous enough to control non-Muslims through open coercion as they would in a Muslim country. So they use double binds to exert control.

What is the conflict illustrated in the video? One the one hand we want to be open, tolerant people. We don't want to be bigoted or narrow-minded. We don't want to be arrogant and insulting toward another's culture just because it's different. This is basic etiquette and manners, and for most of us, it is an important part of who we are.

On the other hand, what if the other culture is actually morally wrong? What if the other culture harms people? What if it interferes with others' freedoms? Violates human rights?

Most cultural differences are very easy for us to accept. If someone wants to put a mark on their forehead or wear a cross or dress in a traditional dress from the old country or eat salted mackerel or pray in some way you are unfamiliar with, most of us don't think, "Look at those freaky foreigners. They are strange and therefore wrong and bad." We think, "That's their culture, and they have every right to live the way they want to."

The co-creator of the movie, Borat, (Dan Mazer) said he found most Americans "incredibly polite," even when the Borat character pushed them far beyond the limits of tolerance. We are the great melting pot. And one of the main reasons that people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds interact and work together with very little friction is that for the most part, we accept each other's differences. Some even embrace and celebrate those differences.

But the cultural-difference-acceptance ethic described above is being challenged more than Borat ever dreamed of. Islam puts our desire to accept cultural differences in direct conflict with our own humanity. In the video I mentioned above, the woman was slapped by a man. But when she dressed and talked like a Muslim, this created a conflict for onlookers. She was clearly a Muslim and a husband hitting a wife is a fairly common practice in Muslim culture (because the practice is encouraged in these Islamic doctrines).

For the onlookers, which ethical principle overrides which? It's wrong for a man to hit a woman. And it's wrong to condemn the practices of a different culture. We don't normally have to choose between them. But Islam is forcing us to choose, and doing their best to convince us to choose cultural acceptance.

What about FGM? Some girls have had this done to them in America. Should we accept this cultural difference, or impose our own morals on people with different cultural beliefs? What about segregation of men and women? What about nurses washing their hands? What about wearing a burka for a drivers license photo? What about polygamy?

Orthodox Muslims keep putting us to the test. And they aren't doing it passively or accidentally. One of the core principles of Islamic doctrine is that Islam is a better political system and a better religion than any other, and that Muslims are better people than any other, and that ultimately the Islamic system of rules and law should override and supersede all others on earth. It is a pushy, domineering, assertive religion. It keeps pushing us into our double binds and most people don't know what to do about it. And to make matters worse, orthodox Muslims keep trying to prevent non-Muslims from even talking about Islam, so we're having a difficult time working it out and resolving it among ourselves. The issue is getting more and more tense and uncomfortable.

We will have to decide. When the principle of cultural inclusion and acceptance comes into conflict with the principles of women's rights, human rights, safety, freedom of speech, etc., which do we choose?

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.

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Taking Every Opportunity to Criticize Their Own Country and Their Own Culture

Friday

I walked into a room and overheard one man, Coren, saying to another man, Samuel, "...Everyone else welcomes foreigners, unlike Americans, who are so intolerant and unhelpful when someone can't speak English." These are both men I've worked with for years. We know each other well. And we are all born and raised in the U.S.

A few minutes later I said to Coren, "I've heard the French have a reputation of looking down on foreigners who don't speak French very well." He said, "That's true." But he didn't seem to understand that I was making an argument against his earlier statement. So I added, "It's pretty common for Americans to criticize America whenever they get the chance."

Samuel looked up from something he was working on and Coren looked surprised. They both looked at each other and then Coren said to me, "I wasn't criticizing America."

"But didn't you just say that Americans are less forgiving of people that don't speak their language — less forgiving than people in other countries?"

Coren said, "I think that's true." Samuel added, "I think it's true too."

I said, "Isn't that criticizing America or at least criticizing Americans or American culture? I've noticed that many Americans go out of their way, whenever they find an opportunity, to put down America."

They both started to protest, but before any sound came out of their mouths, I said, "I have a theory about why people do that." They both looked interested, so I said, "I think some Americans see that there are people in this world much worse off than we are, and they feel somewhat guilty about it. Sort of like survivor's guilt — people who have been in a plane crash or other horrible event where people die, but they survived, can sometimes feel guilty about it. They think, 'There is no reason I survived and the others died. It isn't fair.' And it makes them feel undeserving and guilty.

"We just got lucky," I said. "We were born here. We didn't do anything to make that happen. And we are no more deserving than anybody else in the world, so we're sure not going to boast about this great country. We're not going to be patriotic. In fact, we'll find opportunities to point out what's wrong with our own country or culture. Kind of like a rich person does when he's hanging out with people who aren't rich. He will mention his shortcomings. He will go out of his way to point out his own deficiencies. It makes others feel more comfortable around him, and he doesn't feel so guilty being around people less rich than he is."

They both jumped in and said, "I don't think that's it at all." Samuel said, "I love this country. I'm very patriotic. But I think we could do better."

"I agree with you," I said, "for sure. But you know, I never hear you say anything good about this country, and I hear you say negative things about it all the time."

This got his blood boiling. I could see it on his face. I don't know if it's because what I said was true or because he just hates being called "unpatriotic." He has proudly told me before that he is a "progressive liberal." But he loves America.

He spoke, about two octaves higher than before, and said, "I think there are a lot of people in this country who don't care about other cultures; who just live their lives and don't try to help others."

I said, "Did you know the United States gives financial aid to 96% of all the countries in the world?" I had just read this in Forbes the night before (see it here). I was looking up how much money the U.S. gives in financial aid to Muslim countries. Out of the top six recipients of foreign aid, five are Muslim countries, but that's a topic for a different discussion.

Samuel said, "I'm not talking about what our government does. I mean the citizens of this country."

"Well you give money to charities and try to help," I said, because we've had many conversations before, so I knew that about him. "And I do too. So what Americans are you talking about?"

"There are plenty of people," he said, "who don't care."

"Aren't there people who care and people who don't care in every country?" I asked. "Or do you think there are a higher percentage of people in America than in other countries who don't care?" I said this in a friendly way. I wasn't angry with him. I just wanted to point out this phenomenon that nobody seems to notice. And I don't think this is a uniquely American thing. I believe it happens all over the free world. In Australia, in the UK, in Canada — I read an article the other day that said it happens in Israel. Israelis, the author implied, are the biggest critics of their own country.

The reason this is important is because Islam is an ideology that aims to replace all other cultures with Islam. People who don't vigorously defend their cultures will succumb to Islamic pressure. People who defend their culture have a chance of keeping it. This characteristic of people who denigrate their own culture seems like a weakness to me, a vulnerability. It seems like a characteristic that would prevent someone from defending their own culture.

When another culture comes into contact with Islam, Islam forces the issue and creates a condition where one of the cultures must yield to the other. Islam does not live side-by-side in harmony with other cultures as equals.

So when I am talking to Americans and they jump enthusiastically on every opportunity to put down America or American culture, it bothers me. When push comes to shove, will they defend American values? Or will they yield? They are so habitually critical of their own culture, I think they will yield. But I want them to hold the line. Freedom of speech, human rights, equality of all people — these are values that need to be defended. We should never yield to an inferior set of values.

Anyway, Samuel said, "I don't know if there is a higher percentage or not."

I said, "That's what I'm talking about. Your natural and automatic point of view is that Americans aren't as good as other people in the world, when in fact, they are just like other people in the world. Some of us are good people who try to help others, and some are more selfish. So why call the bad part uniquely American?"

Samuel looked exasperated. He said, "I'm just saying that Americans don't seem to care about the rest of the world. They don't even know the rest of the world exists!"

I said, "Of course Americans know the rest of the world exists."

"But Americans don't try to learn about the rest of the world," he persisted.

"So do you think," I countered, "someone living in a remote village in India knows more and cares more about the bigger world than the average American?"

"No!" he said.

All this time, Coren had been listening to this exchange. And he suddenly piped up: "I think Americans have raped the world."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"They exploit people all over the world," he said, like it was an obvious fact.

I said, "Do you exploit people? Are you busy raping the world? Am I? Is Samuel? Who are you talking about? Wealthy people? Corporations?"

"Yes," he said, and he was about to say something else but I interrupted him.

"Aren't there powerful people and wealthy corporations in every country who exploit others? Do you think that is not being done in Nigeria? China? Russia? Japan? Europe? Aren't you describing a human thing? Not an American thing?"

He said, "Yes, but Americans set the standard!"

I couldn't let this pass. "There have been powerful and wealthy people throughout history," I said, "long before the U.S. even existed, who exploited and dominated others. You can't call that an American invention!"

Then I remembered that Coren had read the book, The Righteous Mind (when I'd recommended it to him), and one of the studies in the book is a survey of the moral standards of wealthy, educated people and poorer, less educated people in two different cities in Brazil and in an American city. So I said, "Remember how they found that the wealthy, educated people in the three different cities were much more similar morally to each other than they were to the poorer people in their own country?"

He nodded. "Yeah," he said, looking like he was remembering.

"So isn't what you're talking about just human? Not American, but human?"

Then he said, "America was founded on raping the world. It is the foundation of this country."

"What do you mean?" I asked. I thought I knew, but I wanted to make sure.

He looked at me like, "I shouldn't have to tell you this because it's so obvious," and he said, "We massacred the Native Americans."

"First of all," I said, "we weren't there, so we didn't do anything (as I pointed to him and then to me). I don't even know if our ancestors were here yet, and besides, the Native Americans did some massacring of their own. There were alliances between Europeans and Native Americans against other alliances of Europeans and Native Americans, and 95% of the Native Americans died of diseases, not massacres." I brought this up because of another book both of us have read, entitled 1491, which is about what the Americas were like before Columbus arrived. New evidence shows that the number of Native Americans who died of disease was much greater than originally thought because when Europeans touched down on the coast, the diseases went inland and caused mass plagues. By the time Europeans actually traveled to the interior of the country, what they saw was the decimated ruin of what had been a much larger population, but they didn't realize the extent of the decimation at the time.

"And besides," I said, "can you name any people on earth who have not been invaded, dominated, pushed into other areas, attacked, overrun, or conquered? Isn't that the history of people on earth? Is this somehow uniquely American? Hell, even the Native Americans did it. Tribes conquered other tribes, killing them off and invading their lands. You and I are also descendants of people who were conquered and whose culture was lost."

What struck me about what he said was how closely it followed the story laid out in Dinesh D'Souza's movie, America. D'Souza says for the last 30 years or so a new story has been told to our children in school, and the story imparts a whole lot of guilt to young Americans because "we" massacred Native Americans, enslaved Africans, plundered everyone and everything, etc. Coren's point of view was almost verbatim what D'Souza had said. Coren is 33 years old.

As we were talking, other people had come to sit nearby to listen to this conversation.

"All I'm saying," I concluded, "is that what you're describing is simply human; not uniquely American. And that there's a reason you two have such a strong desire to put down your own country: You feel guilty. You know about the inequality in the world, but you don't want to just give away all your possessions and money to people who are in need. You want to keep it and enjoy your good fortune, so you assuage your guilt by 'dissing' America."

I didn't convince them, but I definitely disturbed them. I don't know what will eventually happen in their minds, but for sure they will become more aware of their compulsion to trash their own culture, their own people, their own country, and hopefully they'll think about why they seem so intent on doing it. Hopefully it will eventually lead to two more people in the free world who will be willing to appreciate their own culture and value it enough to defend it against an aggressive ideology hell-bent on annihilating it.
Read more:
The Achilles' Heel of the West
The Key to Your Listener's Inability to Confront the Disturbing Truth About Islam


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.

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