Features, Politics, Regressive Left

Leftist Hypocrisy about Islam: Setting the Stage for Violence

Imagine: a major, highly trafficked West-Coast American web site publishes a lengthy, glowing account of how an educated, successful professional woman converts to fundamentalist Christianity, despite the objections of her family, to say nothing of the faith’s foundational texts, which reek of misogyny and homophobia, condone slavery, and preach an End Times worldview antithetical to the approach we so urgently need to adopt to safeguard the future of life on our fragile planet.

Your reaction?  Your first thoughts might well be, how has this happened? What motivated the writer?  Is there some ulterior explanation?  Has, say, the editor-in-chief gone on drugs?  “Found Jesus?”  Or just lost his or her mind?  The progress we as a society have made in recent decades—in women’s rights and in gay rights, for starters—largely stems from our overcoming religion-based prejudices. Liberal folks take that as a given.

Wait, no, not all liberal folks!  Some of them are inclined to make a de facto condescending, hypocritical, insidious exception to the Left’s established line of thinking about faith—but only when it concerns one faith in particular. The exception is meant to seem meritorious and humane, but in reality it tramples upon the rights of women and gays and freethinkers, and, in doing so, affronts reason and human decency. It subverts Enlightenment values and inadvertently fosters hostility against the very people it intends to protect.

Enough hypotheticals here. The religion in question is Islam, of course, and the web site, the Huffington Post, a longtime beacon of the Regressive Left.  (Note that the above description of Christianity’s demerits applies to Islam as well.)  The Huffington Post recently published a wordy, Islam-exculpatory puff piece, “This Former MTV Icon Found Inner Peace Through Islam.” Its author is Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University. Ahmed recounts the faith-destined journey of a German MTV host, Kristiane Backer, onetime companion of the celebrity Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan—a fact relevant here, because, says Backer, Khan “was [her] introduction to Islam.”  She adds that, “I like to say I wasn’t looking, I was found.”

In the sappiest traditions of Christian confessions, Ahmed drones on in this “once lost, now found” manner for two thousand words.  Backer—what else?—was “having the time of her life,” “living her dream as a presenter for MTV Europe,” hobnobbing with the stars.  Sure enough, though, “on the inside, she sometimes felt a crushing sense of depression and anxiety that she couldn’t shake.”  Meeting Khan and listening to Sufi music changed everything. About the latter Backer tells us: “Each lyric seemed connected to a higher form of love that could not be felt between humans.”  She visited Pakistan with Khan, where she was “very much touched by the humanity of the people, by the hospitality, by the warmth,” and their generosity in giving to a cancer hospital for which Khan was raising funds.

“Backer was in awe,” gushes Ahmed. “She was taken aback by the stark difference between the attitudes she experienced in the entertainment industry life, especially the superficiality of Western pop music, and the spirituality she witnessed in Pakistan.” Ahmed gives no date for her trip, leaving us to surmise that it took place sometime before the spate of ghastly Islamist suicide bombings that have hit the country in recent years.

Backer read up on Khan’s faith, and concluded that “there is one God … and that we’re self-responsible for our own deeds and [that] babies are born pure, not as sinners. … I also learned how verses from the Quran can help me in my daily life.” In a video accompanying the text, Backer tells us that it was Sufi esthetics that changed her heart: “You have all the poetry in Sufism, music, the arts.”  Hence, declared Backer, “I converted because I wanted to bring God into my life, and I wanted to purify myself to taste the spiritual fruits I was reading about.”

Her conversion withstood being dumped by Khan. Ahmed informs us that, “What began as a journey of discovery prompted by love for a man became a discovery of eternal love for someone else: God. . . .  There were no more clouds in her life; the confusion and inner conflict had lifted.” Moreover, “her newly adopted faith . . . helped Backer reconcile life in a glitzy pop icon world ― where she had previously felt unsure of her place ― and find meaning in European culture.”  How wonderful, you might think, but then Ahmed quotes her as saying, “I was sacked from all my TV programs and practically lost my entertainment career in Germany.”

Some reconciliation.

I’ll stop here to note that nothing in Backer’s account is remarkable; being “lost,” “found,” troubled and then at peace, and so on are banalities uttered by almost all the faith-deranged in such confessions, starting with Saint Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century.  Furthermore, a Westerner visits a faraway land and encounters superficial kindness, but has little time to fathom the deeper, grimmer realities of the place—this is nothing more than a commonplace experience indulged in by third-rate travel writers. But what demands our attention here is that a major liberal web site saw fit to publish such clichéd musings.

How can an informed reader plod through these pleasant platitudes without thinking, wait, what about Pakistan’s murderous waves of faith-fueled sectarian strife, its Islamist terrorist attacks, its sheltering of Bin Laden?  For that matter, what to make of Islam-related honor killings, the Hadith-sanctioned stoning of adulterers, and 9/11?  How do they square with the “peace” Backer has so ostentatiously discovered for herself in Islam?  It is not “Islamophobic” to wonder about such things.

Ahmed then tells us that Backer “enjoyed a sense of modesty in her Muslim life, [but] she had never associated Islam with the compulsion to wear burqas or found the stereotype of repression of women in the religion to ring true in her personal experience.” Forget about the lived experience of millions upon millions of Muslim women the world over, and the restrictive dress codes imposed on them by the state, community, and family in so many Islamic countries (and in Muslim communities in the West).  What counts is the personal “truth” of Kristiane Backer, regardless of objective, verifiable fact.

The Huffington Post opens the article with a picture of Backer proudly gazing into the camera, her long hair washing over her shoulders, her dress or blouse décolleté.  In the middle of the piece we see a photo of her seated with the famed Irish musician Bob Geldof. Near the end comes a shot of her in lipstick and with plucked eyebrows, defiantly sporting what appears to be a Pakistani headscarf.  The reportage closes with a photo of her in a pink headscarf and a smart pantsuit, kneeling in prayer.

Backer is not shy about showing off her beauty. (A note says she provided the Huffington Post with the pictures.) However, we quickly learn that with her conversion to Islam, she came to disdain Western dress habits.  “It’s actually more dignified for a woman to cover her assets and not show them to everybody. . . .  It’s fine if you . . . show your tummy and have a piercing in your tummy and wear miniskirts, but it’s not fine to wear long clothes and a headscarf? That’s wrong.”  What’s more, “Who needs those whistles on the streets?”

No, what is wrong is forcing women to cover their hair and other “assets,” as Islam ordains.  This is no “unfair perception of Islam,” as she tells us, but a matter of scripture. What’s wrong is holding women responsible for the sexual harassment they endure. What’s wrong is preaching an anti-female code of morality and then using the police and caners and sword-wielding beheaders to enforce it, or, in the West, deploying honor brigades toward that end.  The Sufism to which Backer adheres may not dictate such barbarities, but she repeatedly refers not to Sufism, but to “Islam” as a whole, thereby setting herself up for criticisms of all her religion’s retrograde doctrines.

Ahmed recounts Backer’s struggle with the “serious prejudices against Islam and especially Muslim men” held by her parents. She tells us that her father “even mentioned the word ‘pantheism’” – perhaps implying he was guilty of shirk (polytheism)—an unpardonable sin, according to Islam. She could not comprehend their strange reluctance to approve of her choice. Ludicrously, Ahmed says that, “In Backer’s experience, German identity is not all that different from Islamic identity, so why should she have to choose between the two?” As she put it, “Islamic values are compatible not only with German values, [but] with European values generally. Islam is a religion for all times and all worlds—and therefore also for Europeans in our day and age.  I’m living proof.”

In “Backer’s experience?”  If Backer is living proof of anything, it is narcissistic solipsism: willfully disregard the dark reality into which millions of your oppressed sisters are born, and just do your thing.  I’m not sure what German identity is, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve favoring male heirs over female heirs in dividing up estates, chopping off the hands of thieves, or murdering the apostates of whatever religion. The European (secular) values she glosses over arose in contradistinction to Islamic (and some Judeo-Christian) values, and have buttressed political systems that have helped make the continent, in recent years, a magnet for millions of people fleeing—from where?  Largely from the Muslim world.

 
Then Ahmed presents us with what looks like a deliberate misrepresentation or a clumsy conflation: “In embracing Islam and Eastern culture, [Backer] was merely following in the footsteps of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Martin Heidegger and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller—German thinkers who were influenced by Eastern and Islamic texts, including those by Persian poets Jalaluddin Rumi and Hafez.”  None of those three Germans converted to Islam. And one can certainly enjoy Rumi’s poetry without having recited the Shahada.

Ahmed plods on, giving us more of Backer’s thoughts about Islam and terrorism, and spooning us more pablum about Islam being friendship, and so on. I’ll forgo further explication and finish my critique with Ahmed’s summary of one point: “Backer aspires to show Europeans that outside of the terror and suppression they see on the news, the majority of Muslims are in fact normal, wholesome and productive members of their society.”

Which is precisely beside the point. Muslims practicing their faith peacefully are not the problem; those willing to kill and die for it are. Relentlessly excluding honest analysis of their motivation from accounts of this sort shields the troublesome aspects of Islamic ideology from the conversations we need to have about it. This is specially true regarding Europe, as it suffers a seemingly endless wave of Muslim immigration and repeated acts of Islamist terrorism. Freedom of religion is a pillar of Western society; but Islam’s most provocative doctrines (specifically, those of jihad and martyrdom) demand scrutiny because vast majorities, Pew polling data tell us of Muslims profess them, from Morocco to Indonesia. If you you refuse to acknowledge that, you are stifling debate and setting the stage in the West for a violent, anti-Muslim backlash.

No doubt, cheery-minded simpletons will find consolation in Ahmed’s insipid piffle about Backer’s conversion to Islam. Adopt a faith as though you were donning a headscarf, and all will be fine! Just pronounce Islam wonderful and terrorism will cease! Decry as the real problem not the doctrines of jihad and martyrdom, but “Islamophobes”—those asking serious, fact-based questions! In short, close your eyes and wish upon a star—or a crescent moon. As the body toll rises in Europe, it is becoming increasingly clear that none of this works.

***

But on, briefly, to another topic: a two-minute “satirical” video released on the Internet by the accomplished radio journalist Mariam Sobh titled “Muslims Making Money.” Sobh is no credulous simpleton, nor does her video appear to be targeting them. Rather, she is a clever panderer to those (Leftists) who wish to ignore uncomfortable realities about Islam and cast former Muslims as venal, conniving traitors to their faith.

Sobh begins her video by telling us that everyone is out to make a fast buck—and most of all, for some reason, Muslim apostates.  She offers Muslims a chance to follow her very own “special program” and “pretend” to abandon Islam. Why?  “People who have had inside access to this faith are in high demand?  You’ll be the go-to expert before you can say ‘creeping Sharia.’”

To cash in, Sobh invites you to join her “I’m Not A Muslim Anymore Tell-All Society.”  Once you do, you get “Instant book deals, 6-figure speaking gigs, VIP World Travel, Coveted Political Positions.” She performs a cringeworthy Valley-Girl imitation of a Muslim woman giving a “testimonial” in which she cites boredom and greed as her motivations for faking apostasy and writing “fictional stories about life as a Muslim,” with the intended result that her “phone is ringing off the hook,” and she has “three bestsellers.” (We understand this as an allusion to the heroic Somali-born public intellectual and critic of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.)

Just, she says, “denounce your faith in a series of social media rants and wait for the trolls to bite.  Once your story goes viral and you receive at least one death threat, you’re a candidate!” Having just mocked those justifiably fearing for their lives after making the most anguished decision imaginable, Sobh presents us with a second, this time mock-male, testimonial, to drive home her message that ex-Muslims are vile moneygrubbers.  She finishes with a dull-bladed stab at humor: “We do take a 90-percent cut on all speaking engagements.”

Sobh’s premise is nonsensical—given the risks, who would fake apostasy, and do so publicly?  Sobh insults all those who have wised up, courageously quit their faith, and paid for it with their lives, or who are enduring prison sentences and floggings, or who find themselves cast out of their family or ostracized by their community. By ginning up hostility toward former Muslims, Sobh places them in even greater jeopardy.  She says nothing of the shockingly high percentages of Muslims who agree with the Sharia’s declaration of the death penalty for apostates.  Intentionally or not, she is planting herself on the side of assassins.

Sobh’s video deserves nothing but scorn and the digital equivalent of damnatio memoriae—the ancient Roman punishment, pronounced by the senate, of the shameful consignment of traitors to oblivion. I had never heard of Sobh before she posted her foul clip.  I will now try— but surely fail—to consign her to my own personal version of damnatio memoriae.

You should, too.

 

Filed under: Features, Politics, Regressive Left

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.”

14 Comments

  1. Bill Haywood says

    “what about Pakistan’s murderous waves of faith-fueled sectarian strife, its Islamist terrorist attacks, its sheltering of Bin Laden?”

    The author does not provide any evidence that Backer supports any of that. Becoming a Methodist does not mean someone should be blamed for everything that Pentecostals think or do. And why hasn’t the author denounced the bombing of Dresden? His people did it, you know.

    • Michiel says

      The author never suggests that Backer supports these things. He draws attention to the fact that in this article and in Backer’s story Islam and Pakistan are described very one sidedly and uncritically, and that this general tendency among (part of) the liberal left to not acknowledge the dark sides of Islam, dark sides which are fairly obvious in Pakistan today, is stifling debate.

      Furthermore, there is no moral equivalence between the bombing of Dresden, which was done as part of the campaign to defeat the Nazis, and Islamist terror attacks. If anything, the Islamists are the Nazis, they are the ones who want to subjugate the whole world under their oppressive ideology and are willing to kill for it. Also if you were to poll Americans or Brits right now on whether they think firebombing cities is a good idea, I don’t think you’ll find the same amount of people in agreement as you would by asking Muslims if they support killing apostates.

  2. Santoculto says

    “Muslims practicing their faith peacefully it’s not a problem”

    So it’s just needed jail or isolate the bad apples and don’t care if western europe will become peacefully islamized at the end of this century.

    Almost human cultures are schizophrenic. All religions/cultures/ideologies are based on GOD. Maintain IT but not preserved stupidities of other times specially those that are morally based.

  3. Cassie says

    Bill Haywood – you totally missed his point.

  4. Kat says

    get a death threat and then claim refugee status in the west. 10x cheaper, easier, and more foolproof than filing for work visa, legal immigration or illegal immigration.

    • Richard says

      “get a death threat and then claim refugee status in the west 10x cheaper, easier,…”

      Your not seriously suggesting that an intelligent person could actually believe the rubbish that forms the islamic faith are you..

      Really – have you looked at it ?

      Actaully beleiving that is pretty much harder than anything in respect of the cognitive dissonance it entails.

  5. skdfkjsdfarg says

    “It is not “Islamophobic” to wonder about such things.” Maybe not but obsessively drawing connections between a religion and strive is definitely stupid and irrational, everyone knows political violence happens for a multitude of reasons, the fact that knee jerk blame Islam for everything while putting scare quotes over that word tells me you are in fact a narrow minded tool

    • Yes, why should there be a “knee jerk blame” for islam, just because the muslims who commit terrorist acts themselves repeatedly tell us it’s because of islam? ISIS actually produces an online magazine, Dabiq, in which they have published an article called “Why we hate you & Why we fight you.” You can find it here: https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/the-islamic-state-e2809cdacc84biq-magazine-1522.pdf. Surprise! — ISIS says they commit acts of terrorism because of islam!!! Who knew??? Of course, educated people like you, skdfkjsdfarg, know far better what their REAL motivations are, despite what the perpetrators themselves say, right? Maybe you should try to convince them.

    • Why open by calling it “political violence”? That seems to put the cart before the horse. On the face of it, much of the violence we has the prima facie appearance of being motivated primarily or in large part specific interpretations of the doctrines of Islam, if for no other reason than that the perpetrators of these acts themselves repeat ad nauseum that they are motivated by their religious beliefs.

      Maybe they are not, but it requires sophisticated interpretation of the available evidence to account for their behavior as *not* resulting to a significant extent from adherence to specific religious beliefs (e.g. the belief that martyrdom will be rewarded, that Western civilians are appropriate targets, etc.).

    • Richard says

      “everyone knows political violence happens for a multitude of reasons,”

      Yes – but in these cases, when the authors of the violence tell you why they do it, it would be stupid not to believe them.

      If you study history you will discover that without this violence there would be no islam in the world today.

      North Africa and the Middle East were Christian in the 6th century. Persia was Zoroastrian. Afghanistan was Buddhist, the subcontninent was Hindu/Buddhist as was the far east.

      These religions had become established in the regions peacefully.

      Within little over 100 years the whole north African and Persian/Middle eastern area was ruled by Islamic overlords. Later much of India was also taken over by Islamic rulers.

      They did not get there by preaching.

    • b.a. freeman says

      what do U know about islam? either U are a muslim defending his faith, a leftist defending islam, or somebody who has never examined islam.

      do U believe that a woman’s word in court is worth only half a man’s word? do U believe that if a woman reports that she has been raped, but cannot produce four *male* witnesses to the rape itself, then the woman is guilty of fornication (if not married) or adultery (if married), and must be killed (or, in rare extenuating circumstances, imprisoned, caned, or flogged, or some combination thereof)? do U believe that muslims are the best of people, and that non-muslims are the worst of creatures? do U believe that god is the best deceiver (liar)?

      if so, U’re probably a pious muslim, or are a good candidate for becoming one. these are just a tiny selection of the beliefs of devout muslims who take the word of the quran, ahadith, and the sirat rasul allah as holy literature either verbatim from allah (the quran) or divinely inspired by him (the ahadith and the sirat rasul allah). there is absolutely *nothing* that is known about muhammed and the first muslims other than what is found in these islamic sources. unless U twist and torture the meanings of words, phrases, and the very language itself, the literal meaning of islamic “holy” literature is utterly evil.

      this does not mean that all muslims are pious. most friday sermons are preached in arabic (with selected parts translated into the native language), and few people speak or read modern arabic, let alone the arabic of muhammed’s day. thus, few muslims have a deep understanding the religion they profess; if they do, they generally prefer to live in saudi arabia or territory held by IS. muslim “holy” literature claims that the quran is very clear, which implies that allah wants all people to come to him, but devout muslims also claim that the only way to understand the quran is to read it in arabic. this latter implies that allah only wants a few people to come to him. so which is it? it can’t be both ways.

      perhaps looking at something else will help. a large number of eurabians (and many americans, for that matter) believe that christianity is evil. furthermore, most americans are better off than 95% of the rest of humanity. thus, we can’t look at poor americans to get a good picture of how put-upon oppressed poor people react, so let us look at india. although a republic, india still struggles with the caste system. if ever there were reasons for poor people to become frustrated and turn to terrorism, the untouchables had them (and perhaps still do). with rare exceptions, however, untouchables do not make terrorist attacks. in fact, *no* groups of oppressed people of any place or time have turned to terrorism, but muslims have, and do. why do only muslims do this? how could so many people be so mistaken about their religion? after all, there are more christians than there are muslims, yet although U can probably point to some fringe “christian” group as terrorists, there are nowhere near the abosolute numbers of christians killing muslims, let alone the same fraction. christians don’t seek out and kill muslims (don’t give me that crap about the crusades; that’s another discussion), so something else is at work here.

      the answers are all based upon islamic beliefs islam is a vile criminal cult; it’s as if ms-13 formed a religion. muhammed needed troops to keep the loot coming in (he kept 20% of all “booty” – which is the best translation of the arabic – for himself), so he invented this cult to attract criminals. had he been killed in battle and his fellow criminals captured and killed for their crimes, we wouldn’t be in this mess, but here we are. BTW, i encourage U to find out about islam yourself; do *NOT* take my word for it. the quran, various sahih (very reliable) ahadith collections (such as those of sahih al bukhari and sahih muslim), and the sirat rasul allah (the story of the apostle of allah) of ibn ishaq are all readily available in english and other languages. if U don’t know about islam, but believe that i am a stupid bigoted hateful knuckle-dragger, wouldn’t it be more satisfying to answer my accusations with a putdown directly from the original sources than to simply repeat what U have heard others say? i triple-dog dare U to check the islamic sources.

  6. I think it is unremarkable to observe that humans don’t do well when they are idle, isolated and lack structure to their existence derived from their native culture. The liberal left has always made it a point to deny the importance of all three.

    Naturally, the people of the West are ready to be converted to a religion and political philosophy that offers all three. That many in the cultural elite are choosing Islam over Christianity is not be wondered at since, in the West, the self-appointed opinion leaders do seem to be maoists who hate Christianity and christian culture above all others.

  7. Pingback: Morning reading: Jeff Tayler on Islam; Godless Spellchecker on Dawkins « Why Evolution Is True

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