Free Speech, Human Rights, Religion

Free Speech and Islam — The Left Betrays the Most Vulnerable

When surveying the ill-informed, shoddy work that at times passes as in-depth journalism regarding Islam these days, a rationalist may well be tempted to slip into a secular simulacrum of John Bunyan’s Slough of Despond.  In reputable press outlets, articles regularly appear in which the author proceeds from an erroneous premise through a fallacious argument to a fatuous conclusion.  Compound all this — especially in the main case I’m about to discuss, that of the British former Islamist turned reformer, Maajid Nawaz — with the apparent intent to defame or cast aspersions, and you get worthless artifacts of journalistic malfeasance that should be dismissed out of hand, but that, given the seriousness of the subject, nevertheless merit attention.

For starters, a few words about premises and some necessary background.  Those who deploy the “stupid term” (see Christopher Hitchens) “Islamophobia” to silence critics of the faith hold, in essence, that Muslims deserve to be approached as a race apart, and not as equals, not as individual adults capable of rational choice, but as lifelong members of an immutable, sacrosanct community, whose (often highly illiberal) views must not be questioned, whose traditions (including the veiling of women) must not be challenged, whose scripturally inspired violence must be explained away as the inevitable outcome of Western interventionism in the Middle East or racism and “marginalization” in Western countries.

Fail to exhibit due respect for Islam — not Muslims as people, Islam — and you risk being excoriated, by certain progressives, as an “Islamophobe,” as a fomenter of hatred for an underprivileged minority, as an abettor of Donald Trump and his bigoted policy proposals, and, most illogically, as a racist.

Islam, however, is not a race, but a religion — that is, a man-made ideological construct of assertions (deriving authority not from evidence, but from “revelation,” just as Christianity and Judaism do) about the origins and future of the cosmos and mankind, accompanied by instructions to mankind about how to behave.  Those who believe in Islam today may — and some do — reject it tomorrow.  (Atheism has, in fact, been spreading in the Muslim world.)

Calling the noun Islamophobia “sinister,” Ali A. Rizvi, a Canadian Pakistani-born physician and prominent figure among former Muslims in North America, told me via Skype recently that the word “actually takes the pain of genuine victims of anti-Muslim bigotry and uses that pain, it exploits it for the political purpose of stifling criticism of Islam.”  In fact, denying Islam’s role in, for instance, misogynist violence in the Muslim world, said Rizvi, is itself racist and “incredibly bigoted, because you’re saying that it’s not these ideas and beliefs and this indoctrination [in Islam] that cause” the “disproportionately high numbers of violent, misogynistic people in Muslim majority countries, it’s just in their DNA.”

Also, remember that Islam claims jurisdiction not just over its followers, but over us all, with a message directed to humanity as a whole.  Which means Islam should be susceptible to critique by all.  People, whatever their faith (or lack thereof) deserve respect; their ideologies?  Not necessarily.  In fact, the cornerstone of any free society is freedom of expression – a freedom impeded by labeling as “phobic” those who would object to an ideology.

The misguided progressives who denounce “Islamophobia” and turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of, say, women, gays, and adherents of other religions in Muslim communities or in Islamic countries constitute what Maajid Nawaz has dubbed the “regressive left.”  Regressive leftists are not genuine progressives at all, of course, but deeply confused de facto apologists for the most illiberal notion conceivable: namely, that one group of humans has, on account of its religion, an inalienable right to dominate and abuse other humans — and to do so unmolested by criticism.

No better evidence of this strain of illogical, muddled intolerance of free expression exists than the suspicion and ire regressive leftists reserve for former Muslims and Muslim reformers working to modernize their religion.  In her moving, 2015 must-watch address, Sarah Haider, who is of Pakistani origin, recounts being called everything from Jim Crow to House Arab to native informant by American liberals for having abandoned Islam — by, that is, the very folk who should support women, regardless of their skin color, in their struggle for equality and freedom from sexist violence and chauvinism.

The brave, Somali-born ex-Muslim (and advocate of reforming Islam) Ayaan Hirsi Ali has received even harsher treatment, and to this day, for her outspokenness about her former faith and for making a film in 2004 portraying misogyny in Islamic societies, has to live under armed protection.  (The director, Theo van Gogh, was assassinated that year by an Islamist on the streets of Amsterdam.)  There are many other examples, but the point is this: those who criticize or abandon Islam may well be taking their life into their hands.  Quisling regressive leftists add insult to the injury (or worse) suffered by these people, who, by any progressive standards, should be celebrated.

The latest cases of regressive leftist skullduggery target Maajid Nawaz himself.  With the neuroscientist and groundbreaking “New Atheist” Sam Harris, Nawaz (who, again, is Muslim) recently co-authored Islam and the Future of Tolerance — a book of dialogues between the two men covering the prospects for reforming the faith that is the leading cause of terrorism the world over.  For engaging in this much-needed conversation — probably the most-needed conversation imaginable these days — Nawaz has suffered a hail of abuse from regressive leftists.

“Well-coiffed talking monkey,” “porch monkey,” “House Negro” and “House Muslim” are just some of the insults he has had hurled at him.  He also finds himself the object of an insidious attempt at discreditation — an essay in The New Republic entitled “What Does Maajid Nawaz Really Believe?” written by Nathan Lean.

Lean’s screed is wordy and rambling, and leaves the gullible among its readers bewildered, thrashing about in thickets of innuendo, and inclined to conclude Nawaz is a disreputable character, if not demonstrably guilty of anything outright reprehensible.  The bio note at the foot of the page describes Lean as the author of a book about Islamophobia (so, yes, the spirit of Hitchens’ “stupid term” will permeate his piece), but it makes no mention of his employment at the Saudi-funded Prince Alaweed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, where he directs research at the “Pluralism, Diversity and” — yes — “Islamophobia project.”  This is something readers should at least be aware of.

Anyway, so, according to Lean, what does Maajid Nawaz really believe?  Lean cannot tell us, since he nowhere offers Nawaz’s own words on the subject, which are a matter of public record and are (for example) available here.  Nawaz “didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment” — which is understandable, given Lean’s long record of issuing “Islamophobia” alerts.  Nawaz has stated that, “There is no such thing as ‘Islamophobia.’  No idea should be immune from scrutiny.”  Coming from a Muslim who slogged through five years in an Egyptian prison for Islamism (specifically, for association with the radical Hizb ut-Tahrir organization), such a declaration carries weight.

Lacking any correspondence with Nawaz himself, Lean relies on interviews with those (including Islamists) who at least at one time knew Nawaz.  But even before he gets to them, Lean, in the very first graph, presents Nawaz as a turncoat dandy, as “ambling” about an Oxford debating hall “sporting a slick black tuxedo and a gelled coiffure,” urging his audience to “accept the motion that the American Dream is a noble ethos to which all people should aspire.”  Hardly what one should expect, as Lean has it, from a “self-described former ‘radical.’”  

We then learn that Nawaz has been “ingratiating himself in [sic] the growing union of neoconservatives and hawkish liberals who believe in Western exceptionalism and the efficacy of power, especially military power, to expand its influence and protect its interests” against the “alleged threat” posed by Islamism.  (Alleged?)

Nawaz, Lean reports, has been all over the airwaves hyping this “alleged threat,” even “stroll[ing] through the streets of the French capital with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, explaining the need to confront the religious species in the genus terrorism,” and worse — horribile dictu! – even speaking to Fox News about it.  Furthermore, Nawaz has been “jet-setting” about, “mingling with thought leaders and politicians who believe that his journey from fundamentalism to freedom gives him the authority to opine on a broad range of topics related to religion and violence.”

Lean sarcastically refers to Nawaz’s renunciation of radicalism — again, arrived at after years in an Egyptian prison — as coming via a “Damascene conversion,” and then tells us that those in the know around Nawaz find his “dramatic tale of redemption isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.”  A man identified only as “a friend from Nawaz’s college days” believes him to be “neither an Islamist nor a liberal . . . .  Maajid is whatever he thinks he needs to be.”  A current affiliate of Hizb ut-Tahrir and former cell-mate “remembers Nawaz as a guy who wasn’t particularly religious, but [who] labored to appear committed to Islamism in an effort to win popularity and promotion.”

Ponder the last statement.  Given the attendant risks, why would anyone just pretend to be a radical Islamist, and not only join Hizb ut-Tahrir, but strive to attain “popularity and promotion” within it? 

Lean spills much more ink trying to convince us that Nawaz may not have really been an Islamist, but only posed as one, and may not have renounced the Islamism in which he may never have actually believed because he actually turned against it.  (You should be confused after reading that.)  What could have motivated Nawaz to give up those Islamist views he possibly never held?  “State dough,” and oodles of it, doled out to the Quilliam Foundation (a think tank Nawaz established in London to counter Islamist extremism).  “Last year,” writes Lean, “Nawaz drew a salary of more than $140,000.”  But how on Earth can receiving remuneration for working to end Islamist violence be held against Nawaz — or anyone else?

Two thousand words into his piece, Lean declares his failure to reach a conclusion about Nawaz’s probity, which he appears to have been impugning throughout: “Whether a genuine conversion or an opportunistic about-face, it’s impossible to know with certainty what compelled Nawaz to leave Hizb ut-Tahrir and espouse his current agenda.”  (His “agenda?”  Again, countering Islamist extremism.)  Not having decided what Nawaz really believes doesn’t stop Lean from backhandedly maligning him with a characterization he attributes to his onetime Islamist buddies.  They “see him as an Islamic Judas Iscariot, a Muslim who turned his back on his fellow believers when state coffers flung open.” 

Lean plods on for another thousand words, but I’ll spare you further exegesis, with one exception.  Nawaz’s collaboration with Sam Harris “who . . . has advocated racial profiling and torture,” (false: see here and here, in addition to here), Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher (whom Lean accuses of spreading “extreme ideas” — false again, but decide for yourself), as well as Ayaan Hirsi Ali only serves to confirm his disreputableness.  (If in fact Nawaz is disreputable.  Remember, Lean cannot say for sure.)  Their shared “extreme idea:” pointing out that something in Islam needs to change – a statement with which no unbiased follower of world affairs would argue.

Enough with Lean’s piece.  The larger issue is not only that reform-minded Muslims and ex-Muslims face danger from repressive Islamic regimes (in, for instance, Saudi Arabia, where atheism is legally equated with terrorism, or in Bangladesh, where secular bloggers are routinely hacked to death by Islamists), they suffer slings and arrows of disdain from those witless progressives who decry “Islamophobes,” “porch monkeys,” “House Arabs,” and so on.  Their much-suppressed voices of reason are, though, beginning to find an audience.  Check out this fine essay by Zubin Madon, which contains the following quote from the Pakistani-Canadian blogger Eiynah about the plight of former Muslims:

We are cast out of conversations about our own communities and lives, we are refused platforms in mainstream media to avoid offending Muslim sentiments, and more recently we are viciously targeted on social media.

This is disgraceful treatment from progressives, who should be standing shoulder to shoulder with these courageous souls endeavoring, often at great risk, to live free and dignified lives without religion.  They, and all Muslims working to end Islamist violence (including, of course, Maajid Nawaz), deserve our full-throated support.

Again, people deserve respect, but ideologies, however cherished, must be examined, discussed, and assessed rationally.  Those ideologies found wanting must be discarded.  This is already happening, at least in more enlightened parts of the world.  Religion is already on track to go extinct in nine of the most developed, peaceable countriesNonbelievers are rapidly increasing in number in the United States.

We need to dump the concept of “Islamophobia” in the waste bin of history (and drop our reluctance to criticize other religions, too), return to Enlightenment principles (which include unfettered speech about religion), and start working for the common good, free from superstition and metaphysical dogma.

The best way to begin would be to cease disparaging and defaming former Muslims and Muslim reformers and extend them a wholehearted welcome to the progressive community.

Now that would be progress.

 

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His seventh book, “Topless Jihadis — Inside Femen, the World’s Most Provocative Activist Group,” is out now as an Atlantic ebook. Follow @JeffreyTayler1 on Twitter.

 

See also: Free Speech and Islam — In Defense of Sam Harris

 

Photo: Maajid Nawaz, TEDxBrighton

Jeffrey Tayler
Follow him:

Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of seven books, including “Angry Wind,” “River of No Reprieve” and “Murderers in Mausoleums.”
Jeffrey Tayler
Follow him:
Filed under: Free Speech, Human Rights, Religion

by

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of seven books, including “Angry Wind,” “River of No Reprieve” and “Murderers in Mausoleums.”

50 Comments

    • Paul J. Robinson says

      Sanity and Logic: the two headed beast of Blasphemy……

  1. Joe says

    Thank God someone ripped apart that piece of shit Nathan Lean column. Thanks for making sense on this, Jeffrey.

  2. Jamie says

    Great piece. It is truly sad watching the crosshairs of those media savvy “liberal progressives” move from the far right to their own, actual, progressive, liberal reformers like Majid and Ayan. There is such an obsession amongst the young, aspirational middleclass elite with “victim worship” that rational and balanced thinking has gone out the window on these hugely important issues. Criticising the practices of social “victims” should not be taboo. The true sadness is in the difficulty in actually having a conversation about these issues with someone on the other side, evidenced most clearly by the failed conversation between Sam Harris and Omar Aziz on his podcast.

    • Pritesh says

      That failed conversation was extremely cringe-worthy. I think most of us would have been fine with Sam just leaving it in the trash.

      • Dk says

        Disagree. It needed to be aired. Now, and forever more when Omar Aziz raises his nasally voice about anything, we can collectively cut him off, point to that conversation and discontinue listening…

  3. Ann L says

    Ok, on the main point of the article. But really? This? “Again, people deserve respect, but ideologies, however cherished, must be examined, discussed, and assessed rationally. Those ideologies found wanting must be discarded. This is already happening, at least in more enlightened parts of the world. Religion is already on track to go extinct in nine of the most developed, peaceable countries. Nonbelievers are rapidly increasing in number in the United States.”

    It reads like, “the only rational thing to do with a religious ideology is to discard it, and we know that this is true because in our assessment of what it means to be most developed and peaceable, there are more nonbelievers (oh c’mon…aetheists are believers in their ideology).

    Or maybe that paragraph is really where you wanted to go, in which case, sneaky sneaky sneaky.

    • His Shadow says

      “the only rational thing to do with a religious ideology is to discard it”

      Now you’re getting it.

    • TomPeeke says

      Atheism isn’t an ideology. It is merely an observation of the evidence at hand.

      • Yandoodan says

        Evidence? You have measured the non-existence of God? You have done measurements on Godness, and found that its presence in the universe is below levels predicted by hypothesis. Ergo…

        • Brian R. Fieldhouse says

          I have also never measured the non-existence of Santa Claus, nor have I found that the presence of Tooth-Fairyness in the universe is below levels predicted by hypothesis. Ergo, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy exist, and I´m entitled to kill you for the crime of Santaphobia if you dare to disagree.

    • Joe says

      “It reads like, “the only rational thing to do with a religious ideology is to discard it, ”

      I don’t think this is what he means, though I think Jeffery is either being a bit overly optimistic or getting lost in his language. Religion’s never going away. However, you can severely weaken its influence through the process of ‘lowering it down’ to the level where it gets the same criticisms, mockery, deconstructions, etc. of any other ideology. When we inaccurately conflate this with people who believe in the ideology, we are preventing this process from taking place.

      However, to your statement that I quoted, in my opinion: yeah.

    • Arthur Eld says

      The atheist ideology of not believing in god(s). Yeah, no. Not an ideology.

      Also: “it reads like” quite nicely establishes who you are arguing against. It’s yourself; what you make of something that you’ve read.

      But by all means, continue to enjoy the fruits of enlightened, developed thought by being able to speak your mind freely! It’s more than a little idiotic to use this freedom — that you wouldn’t have if the theocrats would have it their way — to denounce the developed world, but your right to be publicly stupid is sacrosanct.

      • Atheism isn’t an ideology in the dogmatic sense. It’s the rejection of deities because simply there isn’t any evidence for it in the world or the universe.

        You’re the one who is arguing god exists, you present the proof for it. I can’t prove god doesn’t exist, because you can’t prove a negative. E.G. Prove to me there isn’t a flying rainbow pink unicorn that eats candy while shitting chocolates. By your reasoning, since we can’t prove it doesn’t exist, then it must exist!

        Get my drift?

        On the other hand, present 100% reliable, verifiable evidence of god’s existence and we won’t reject it.

        We’re not atheists because we were indoctrinated by our parents or society. We’re atheists because we saw the evidence for god and found it lacking.

        It isn’t an ideology, it’s just a default state of mind to whoever opens up their eyes and mind to the real truths of the universe.

    • steve oberski says

      The only rational thing to do with any ideology is to discard it.

    • Andrew Neil says

      “(oh c’mon….atheists are believers in their ideology)”. Atheism is not an ideology, it is an absence of a belief in a proposition that fails to provide any evidence to support supernatural claims. Being an atheist is no more/less ideological than not believing in ghosts or haunted houses.

  4. Bitfu says

    Islam needs Sheryl Sandberg to go Full-Hijab and pen Lean In, Muslims

    Actually, I need this. I really do.

    Come with me for a moment, and imagine the discussion-questions posed in book clubs around the Western World:

    1. Is this Jew Islamophobic when she writes such a book?
    2. Are the death threats levied against her acceptable, given the ‘hurt’ and ‘anguish’ caused by such a book?
    3. Is it OK to stone a Muslim woman in possession of such a book that is so contrary to the precepts established in the Koran?
    4. What of the publisher? Carpet-bomb, or simple arson?

    And finally…

    5. This book speaks to a larger issue in the West about matters of Race, and gender equality. We need a National Conversation (preferably on Twitter) as to the insidious intolerance that infects conservative Americans. Obviously, they share this Jew’s contempt of Islam. But it’s not just that: The Right hates people of color, and they persecute women by dishonestly invoking Christianity as an excuse to deny women tax-payer-funded-abortions. What are some hashtags we could tweet in order to raise awareness and show our solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters?

    #IRideWithYou
    #IStandWithMuslims
    #IStoneWomenWhoReadJewBooksBecauseIStandForTolerance

    • Erisian says

      Bitfu – can you please explain the contrast between your (apparently) liberal ideals and goals and your rabid tirade against Jews and people who don’t agree with you politically?

      1. Are you so totally against the Jews that you feel they cannot write a book that disagrees with your “correct” ideologies?
      2. Are death threats against Muslims who disagree with the violence of the few acceptable given the ‘hurt’ and ‘anguish’ caused by such a book” i.e. Salman Rushdie?
      3. Is it ok to crucify a Christian for reading the “Satanic Bible” by Anton LeVay?
      4. “What of the publisher? Carpet-bomb, or simple arson?”

      And finally…

      5.”We need a National Conversation (preferably in a national source that will not exclude opinions by those who don’t use Twitter, Facebook or any other social media) as to the insidious intolerance that infects [progressive] Americans. What is so important to those on the Left that they feel People of Color are much better served by living on the Progressives’ Plantation (other than votes for more Dems who promise more free stuff with no way to pay)? What right was given to the liberals to say that it is correct for them to take taxpayers’ money, and use that money for something that so many people disagree with: “tax-payer-funded-abortions” (which, by the way, is considered as murder by many people and just another form of birth control – abortion on demand – by many others)?

  5. Pritesh says

    Excellent article, Jeffrey. The garbage word Islamophobia needs to die. Even auto-correct doesn’t recognize it.

  6. Pingback: Jeff Tayler on the vilification of Muslim and ex-Muslim progressives « Why Evolution Is True

  7. Yandoodan says

    Great stuff, Jeff. I note that illiberalism is spreading on both the Left and the Right. On the Left, identity politics subsume individuals into groups, making their group characteristics more important than the individuals. Of course, it’s the western elite Leftists who get to define the groups and stick total strangers into ’em. But for me (as a Reagan conservative) the nationalistic corporatist ideology, rising in France and taking over the party of Lincoln in America, is even scarier.

    The form is different, but both share the impulse to suppress individuals in the name of groups, and to do this from a centrally directed authority.

  8. SGB says

    Interesting article, certainly passionet, but I am not happy with the generalised attack on lefty progressives, thos sortvof geb0neralisation is just as bad as the Lean article he was attacking.

    No sorry I am an athiest, which to me means that I have considered the reasoning of those with faith and carried out sufficient of my own research, to conclude that all faith based ideas about a god/s just don’t stack up to even the most rudimentary scrutiny.

    But sorry, far be it for me to criticise the thoughts and feelings of others as this article apears to do is to deny them the right to think, belive, speak and associate as they so please.

    If people are religious and do not harm to any other living creature (save for food) I simply see it as bit of a flaw in their reasoning.

    I do agree (and I am a lefty and yes I see myself as progressive) that we should call the muslims who use their religion as a political means to rule over everyone else as truely fascist, and really are simply using this faith for personnal gain, but I will say that if I had lived during the 700 years of the inquisition I would be saying that the Cathlic religion was being used by some to rule over others for political and personnal gain, and just as fascist too. And it is clear from the likes of Hitler and Stalin totalitarian religious fervour is not restricted to the worship of one or more fictitious gods, but the worship of ideals too!

    • TomPeeke says

      Way to go with proving a point of why this article went completely over your head, and also showed that you are one of the Lefty “progressives” who are the problem.

      You obviously have no idea what Islam is or what it calls for.

      Jihadists do not “use their religion” it as a political means. The simply FOLLOW IT… Islam IS political just as much as it IS religious.

      What this article says is that people like you, who think they are progressive are actually REGRESSIVE. This is abundantly clear in your reply.

      Bravo

    • Joe says

      “But sorry, far be it for me to criticise the thoughts and feelings of others as this article apears to do is to deny them the right to think, belive, speak and associate as they so please.”

      This article isn’t denying anyone the right to think, believe, speak, and associate as they so please, nor at any point does it say that it would be a good idea to do something like this. In fact it accurately calls Donald Trump’s policy proposals, the guy who substantively is saying the sort of thing you’re talking about, bigoted.

      I think you may be falling into the “ideology of Islam vs. Muslims as people” trap that this article is talking about.

  9. Chad says

    Ben Affleck here, can I get a “this is gross and….”

  10. Mark Adams Brown says

    How can a person know whether God exists, if he has never actively sought to encounter Him?

    • frednotfaith2 says

      God is a fiction created by people. You can no more encounter god than you can encounter Superman or Zeus. If you believe you have “encountered” god, you are seriously deluded.

    • Sorry Mark; you’re assuming the conclusion. Since your imagination is good, I guess, imagine this: “LOUD BUZZER SOUND” (by the way, that sound isn’t good). Try again.

    • Brian R. Fieldhouse says

      How can a person know whether the Easter Bunny exists, if he has never actively sought to encounter him? By the way, Mark, your attempt to be non-sexist in the first clause (“…..a person….”) fails in the second, where you assume that both the person and God are male.

    • Ken Phelps says

      Mark Adams Brown – What gave you the idea that the people to whom your comment is presumably addressed haven’t done precisely that? I know I did. As it turns out, the “still small voice” in my head kept saying “you’re just trying to fool yourself because you’re afraid of dying”.

  11. George says

    I understand why Tayler thinks the Progressive Left ought to support the work of reforming Muslims. Traditional Islam is, after all, the staunch enemy of equality, liberty & democracy. But I think it is a stretch to expect Progressives to really ever support “Enlightenment values” such as free speech. Free speech for the Progressive is like the free market – an even pitch with unequal players. Progressives see themselves, first & foremost, as protectors of these so-called unequal, disenfranchised groups. And as the majoritarian centre of gravity has shifted in college campuses, the media & public office (the establishment) towards progressive values – so free speech, once the core mantra of Leftwing liberation movements, has fallen even further out of favour with the modern Left. A seemingly impossible combination of self-victimisation and metropolitan social influence.

    Unfortunately, the universalist values of the righteous Suffragette and Civil Rights movements of the 20th century are trumped by this new identity politics – and that’s why we see glaring hypocrisy & parochialism creeping into the Regressive Left. A hypocrisy that cries and shouts at a strongly worded tweet by Richard Dawkins, but struggles to forcefully condemn child marriage and female veiling in Islamic culture. Whilst Progressivism ascends petty minority grievances above universalist liberalism, it can no longer be considered a ‘misguided ally’ in the fight against religious bigotry, but rather its enabler and abettor.

    Indeed, this tendency towards identity politics is creeping into secular-rationalist arguments, and even this article… Presenting “Muslim reformers” as an oppressed group (“House Muslim” etc) & thus entitled a degree of intellectual immunity, or a lot of sympathy at the very least. Citing supporting statements from people of almost exclusively Muslim heritage: Ali Rivzi, Ayaan Hirsi & Sarah Haider, with the strong implication being that they must have authority to speak on this subject. Shaming Nathan Lean, not just on account of his exceedingly poor ideas, but for seemingly daring to question a Muslim on the issue of Islam. In this article it is mostly innuendo, but I see this happening explicitly on this side of the debate all the time. The question begs, how committed to the Enlighten values are we really? We need to stop re-affirming the notion that victimhood gives you free license & authority in conversation if we have any chance of good ideas succeeding. The enemy of rationalism is not with progressivism per se, but with identity politics – and we mustn’t indulge it ourselves (as much as I want to see Nawaz et al succeed.)

  12. Isn’t it shoddy journalism to refer to these people as either leftists or, worse, liberals?

  13. Heart warming to read this, the truth about how humanist values are eroded by the very who proclaim to be humanists or at least uphold liberal values. May you both continue to have the courage to speak out .

  14. Pingback: Free Speech and Islam — The Left Betrays the Most Vulnerable | Quillette | Athe1stP0werBlog

  15. false representation in your premise dude: ”Muslims deserve to be approached as a race apart, and not as equals, not as individual adults capable of rational choice,” and then you refer to the research which doesn’t treat muslims as ”race”-that would be simply inaccurate and racist- and doesn’t treat them in terms of ”equality”-obviously different doesn’ mean equal and you if you have to talk about equality you have to talk in economic or class terms. And since your premise is wrong, your whole argument collapses.

    By the way, Muslim was elected today for the first time in a western city. Human rights lawyer, liberal and anti-extremist in a city which has experienced the horrors of islamic terrorism.

    • Michiel says

      Certainly not “for the first time in a western city”.The city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has had a muslim major since 2009. I’m sure there must be more cities in western europe with muslim majors.

  16. In focusing on Nathan Lean’s article, Taylor is picking apart one of the weaker debunkings of Nawaz’s past activities and current message, not the strongest.

    For the much-more-detailed truth about Maajid Nawaz’s past, Google for the article by Ahmed and Blumenthal on “The Self-Invention of Maajid Nawaz: Fact and Fiction in the Life of the Counter-Terror Celebrity.” (The co-author Blumenthal is an anti-Semitic thug, but that does not invalidate his damning research regarding Nawaz.) Summary: The key points of Nawaz’s radicalization-to-secularization story are almost certainly highly fictionalized, if not invented outright.

    Worse, for the blatant, undeniable taqiyya by Nawaz in his dialogues with Sam Harris comprising their co-authored book, Google for Vikram Chatterjee’s article “Maajid Nawaz: Stealth Jihadist Exposed”. (If Harris’s written admiration for the indefensible, thoroughly debunked work of Dean Radin, Ian Stevenson, Ken Wilber, Terence McKenna, and his one-time spiritual teacher, the guru H.W.L. Poonja, hasn’t convinced you that he’s *deeply* gullible, nothing will.)

    As part of Nawaz’s hope for dialog and the emergence of a “moderate Islam,” he recently undertook a speaking tour of Australia. There, a full 45 Muslim groups, including the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Muslim Students Australia NSW, refused to even meet with him. Some of those groups even went so far as to say that Maajid was not welcome in Australia.

    For the actual percentages of Muslims worldwide who hold non-moderate (i.e., radical) beliefs, Google for:

    Clarion Project, “By The Numbers – The Untold Story of Muslim Opinions & Demographics”
    “Muslim Opinion Polls: A Tiny Minority of Extremists?”
    “Ben Shapiro: The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority” (YouTube)

    Then there is Nawaz’s reprehensible treatment of Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer (and Quilliam’s equal mistreatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq), as Spencer himself (2014) recounts:

    “Nawaz’s attacks on me on Twitter were not the first time I had been attacked by someone from the Quilliam Foundation. In fact, at the time of its founding, its founder Ed Husain went out of his way to launch a gratuitous attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and me. At that time I had been quite interested to determine whether Quilliam was really the sincere reformist organization it claimed to be–but this unexpected and unwarranted attack made me doubt it immediately. I know Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq. I know their work quite well. I know that neither is a “racist, bigoted Islamophobe,” just as I know that I myself am not one either. I know that they’re deeply concerned about how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism, as I am, and want to preserve Western pluralistic societies with their freedom of speech and equality of rights for all people, as I do.”

    “It seemed to me then that if Quilliam were really sincere in wanting Islamic reform, it would not have counted Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and me as enemies, but as allies–just as now I believe that if Usama Hasan and Maajid Nawaz were sincere about Islamic reform, they would not count Pamela Geller and me as enemies, but as allies….”

    “[Nawaz’s repetition] of the familiar claim that Islamic jihadists have ‘hijacked’ Islam, in defiance of the abundance of evidence that they win converts among peaceful Muslims by appealing to chapter and verse of the Qur’an and numerous incidents in the life of Muhammad as depicted in the earliest Muslim sources, strongly suggests that he isn’t really interested in Islamic reform anyway, but just in more deception.”

    For a clear-eyed and honest appraisal of the situation, Google for “Robert Spencer The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades II” (YouTube). From 2005!

    FYI, there has already been a Protestant-like reformation of Islam, effected in the eighteenth century, returning it to its founder’s original teachings. It’s called Wahhibism.

    Even if there was room for real reformation in Islam, how many *generations* would it take, not merely to un-brainwash any meaningful percentage of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, but to equally fix the university-educated, safe-space-needing, easily triggered special snowflakes of the “Regressive Left” who unfailingly enable and encourage Islamists to increase their power in the West, as fellow “oppressed minorities”?

    • “It seemed to me then that if Quilliam were really sincere in wanting Islamic reform, it would not have counted Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and me as enemies, but as allies–just as now I believe that if Usama Hasan and Maajid Nawaz were sincere about Islamic reform, they would not count Pamela Geller and me as enemies, but as allies….”

      Anyone with any political smarts knows well that when someone abjures those who actually agree with them but who are strident or castigated by others, that person is either allied with or seeking approval from other influential people and needs to distance one’s self from associating with “controversial” figures in order to maintain “credibility”. The quote above is insightful and correct.
      Nawaz is playing a two-faced game by indicting Geller and Spencer (one of our best and most
      informed scholar-critics of Islam) as enemies. But the typical liberal can never imagine that agreement with people of different ideologies does not mean they share all beliefs of that ideology.
      I was excoriated by the U.S. Green Party for my views on radical Islam even though my views
      coincided with nearly all of the other quite leftist views of the party. As soon as friendly greens read my website, they sent me the usual nasty accusations of being right wing, redneck and racist despite my quite leftist views on corporations, environment, GMOs, universal health care and foreign policy.

  17. markbul says

    If you understand the fundamental dishonesty of the term ‘Islamophobia,’ can you not see the identical phenomenon in the word ‘homophobia?’ A phobia is a disease of the mind. Who else has defined their opponents as mentally ill? And what did it to to them?

  18. I can’t help but feel that a real tragedy is brewing, that the regressive Left’s decision to silence critics of Islamism is going to lead to a disconnect of the Left from the majority of people. That effectively, Islamism is going to eat the Left.

  19. Pingback: Murderous Bigotry at the Speed of Light #Secularism #Solidarity | Psybertron Asks

  20. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#113)

  21. Islamophobia implies that it is indefensible to criticise people for being what they choose to be. Homophobia implies that it is indefensible to criticise people for being what they have no choice but to be.

    The difference is stark.

  22. Pingback: Australia, secular, politics, news, atheism, antitheism

Comments are closed.