That’s the headline from Erick Erickson today, commenting on President Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly.
Here’s what President Obama said:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, and that is the vision we will support.
(The full text of Obama’s speech, incidentally, is here.)
So … how did Erickson get from “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” to “President Obama declares the future must not belong to practicing Christians”?
It is an orthodox Christian belief that Mohammed is not a prophet. Actual Christians, as opposed to many of the supposed Christians put up by the mainstream media, believe that Christ is the only way to salvation. Believing that is slandering Mohammed. That’s just a fact. If you don’t believe me, you go into the MIddle East and proclaim Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and see what happens to your life.
Erickson seems to see no difference between believing in the truth of one’s own religion and actively demeaning someone else’s religious belief. Here’s an easy example:
I’m Jewish and, as such, I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ or the revelations of the Christian Bible. But my lack of belief doesn’t impact Christians in any way; it doesn’t encourage their own disbelief, it doesn’t demean them, and it doesn’t slander either Jesus or the Bible.
The same is true about the Prophet Muhammad, who is not one of the prophets I recognize.
I’m sure that Christians and Muslims think I’m wrong and I suppose that a fair number of them think that things will go badly for me in the future as a result of my wrong-headed beliefs. But there’s an obvious difference between my lack of belief in the divinity of Jesus or Muhammad as a prophet and, for example, the “Innocence of Muslims” video, which is openly hostile to Islam and slanderous with regard to Muhammad.
It’s hard for me to imagine that someone can reach adulthood without learning the difference between pluralism of belief and insult to belief. But apparently that’s what happened with Erick Erickson.
HT: Jordan Soliz.
Sam Bacile, an Israeli filmaker who produced and directed an anti-Muslim film attacking the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on US missions in Egypt and Libya, claiming the life of one American
Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any manner, let alone insultingly. It not only portrays the Prophet, which Islam prohibits, but ridicules him as a homosexual and advocate of paedophilia, and shows him having sex.
Terry Jones, the fundamentalist Christian pastor whose burning of Qu’rans sparked international outrage, promoted the film and said Tuesday that he planned to show a 13-minute trailer that night at his church in Gainesville, Florida.
Please also note that this disgusting film is not supported by Jews and goes against the very tenants of Judaism, which preaches respect, love for all mankind, truth, and nonviolence. If anything, this was a Zionist attack on Islam.
There is no fundamental conflict between Jews and Muslims or Jews and Arabs (remember that quite a number of Jews, like myself, are Arab). We need to get beyond that type of polarized, backwards, and bigoted thinking. It’s destroying communities, lives, and historical bonds between a shared people who lived alongside one another in peace for thousands of years. We’re directing our anger towards the wrong entities and prolonging the hatred Western imperialists and colonialists used ages ago to manipulate and destroy communities for their own political and economic benefit. We should be trying to forge and restore bonds between communities to solve our problems, not continue the hatred that created them in the first place.
“It is amazing that loving our neighbor is such a radical statement, as it is foundational to the teachings of Jesus,” said Rev. Steve Jerbi, pastor of All Peoples Church, which has been actively involved in responding to the shooting at the gurdwara. “Yet, the walls of division, fear, and even just knowing our neighbors is too often our reality. This statement reminds us, in light of both tragedy and in everyday life, that we are called to love our neighbors. This is a chance for Christians to continue to express not just our sympathy, but our love for sisters and brothers in the Sikh community.”
A few weeks back, the sensation-seeking Representative Michele Bachmann did her best imitation of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. She and four of her Congressional colleagues released letters they had collectively sent to the Inspectors General of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence calling on them to investigate whether “influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood” have “had an impact on the federal government’s national security policies.”
Warning of “determined efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to penetrate and subvert the American government as part of its ‘civilizational jihad’” the representatives wanted the Inspectors General to identify the Muslims who were influencing U.S. policy.
In making these charges, Bachmann and her cohorts were relying on the work of a Washington-based group the Center for Security Policy — a notorious player in the anti-Muslim industry that has been working for several years to smear Muslim American groups. The head of the Center served as one of Bachmann’s advisers during her ill-fated run for the presidency and the only source cited in the Congressional letters was the Center’s “training program,” “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within.”
In other instances the evidence reads more like a “six degrees of separation game.” Using this trick, Bachmann and the Center point accusing fingers at some Muslims who serve in the administration. Among those who were singled out by name is Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
In the case of Abedin, the game goes from absurd, to downright bizarre. Her father and mother are Muslim and her father taught at a Muslim university in Saudi Arabia, and so they must be… (fill in the blank). In one article inspired by the Center’s work that appeared in the Washington Times, a right-wing newspaper, questions are asked as to whether Abedin “had been groomed to access movers and shakers to advance the cause of Islam in America.” The article goes on to question whether Abedin’s marriage to a Jewish Member of Congress was but a clever ruse designed to further this “Islamist agenda.” The evidence? Since Abedin is a Muslim why else would her family have approved of her marrying a non-Muslim? And, after all, she works for Clinton and Obama, who share, the article says, the “socialist agenda, which includes domination of the U.S. by a Muslim-ruled world!”
Let’s look first at the five Members of Congress who signed the letters: Representatives Bachmann, Tom Rooney, and Lynn Westmoreland all sit on the Select Committee on Intelligence, while Representatives Trent Franks and Louis Gohmert are members of the Judiciary Committee. With the exception of Bachmann, all hold leadership positions, either within their respective committees or in the House Republican caucus.
As an example of the potential this group might have to influence policy, this week the powerful Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, speaking on a radio program hosted by the head of the Center, called Bachman’s campaign to “root out” Muslims “very important” noting that she is “taking the lead” on this issue.
As was the case during the McCarthy era, “witch-hunts” have victims and not only in jobs lost and careers ruined. Equally troubling is the distress that campaigns of this sort can bring to those not named, but who live in fear that their religion or their ethnicity will be the reason that they will be held in suspicion, denied a position, or held back from advancement. And as I know from bitter personal experience, it can result in entire communities being shunned by officials who fear being attacked for associating with a group that has been smeared as “dangerous.” Because there is a scarcity of courageous leaders in Washington, all too often the “witch hunts” will fester, taking a terrible toll before being challenged and defeated.
It is for this reason that I am so thankful that the wise voters of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District sent Keith Ellison to Congress. He is smart, picking his fights carefully. He is principled and courageous, venturing forth on matters that others tend to shy away from. And his wise counsel and thoughtful approach to issues has earned him the respect of his colleagues.
Ellison demonstrated his leadership this week when he directly challenged the sensation-seeking Islamophobe, Representative Michele Bachmann. In a stern letter to Bachmann and company, Ellison asks that she provide his “office with a full accounting of the sources you used to make the serious allegations against the individuals and organizations in your letters. If there is not credible, substantial evidence for your allegations, I sincerely hope you will publicly clear their names.”
|—||Thank you Timothy Stanley, writing for CNN. Thank you for saying what should have been said, oh I don’t know, since like, forever. (via orientalismisalive)|
Today, as America’s Muslim leaders debate controversial topics like political radicalism inside mosques and states’ attempts to ban Shariah law, this growing network of alternative mosques and Islamic groups is quietly forging a new spiritual movement.
They’re taking bold steps, reinterpreting Islamic norms and re-examining taboos. While far from accepted by mainstream clerics, these worshippers feel that the future of the religion lies not solely with tradition but with them. Women are leading congregations in prayer, gay imams are performing Islamic marriages, and men and women are praying side by side.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Monday accused the Republican presidential field of incendiary rhetoric that did not match the level-headed tone in combating terrorism laid out by President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama. Appearing on CNN, Durbin was responding to the GOP candidates’ criticism that Obama’sapology to Afghans for the inadvertent burning of Muslim holy books was “unacceptable,” as former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) put it.
Durbin said the Bush “got it right” when “(h)e said our war is not with the religion of Islam.” Instead, he said, “Our war is with those who would distort [Islam] and turn it into terrorism.” Durbin went on to say that this was a “guiding principle” that “was adopted by President Obama.” He then drew a distinction with the GOP presidential field, and CNN commentator Will Cain asked him to clarify:
DURBIN: Now, listen to these Republican candidates for president. They’re at war with Islam. What the president is trying to do is to calm down –
WILL CAIN: Senator Durbin, I haven’t heard one thing that backs up what you suggest. Just give me an example, how are they at war with Islam?
DURBIN: Newt Gingrich saying that the president is guilty of appeasement. […]What you listen to is incendiary rhetoric coming out in a very delicate situation. Lives are at stake here. The president is showing leadership. The president is stepping up, trying to calm a situation. These three candidates are coming on television doing the opposite.
Indeed, Durbin is right. Much of the GOP presidential campaign has been steeped in Islamophobic rhetoric. Gingrich has said he would single out Muslims by advocating for anunconstitutional federal law that would criminalize some practices of being Muslim in America.Santorum has endorsed Muslim profiling at airports, and has said Muslims don’t believe in equality. In 2007, Mitt Romney reportedly said he wouldn’t consider Muslim candidates for a cabinet position.
You’d think so, but not according to a District Court Judge in Pennsylvania:
There is a surprising story out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania that seems the perfect storm of religious tensions. You begin with Ernie Perce, an atheist who marched as a zombie Mohammad in the Mechanicsburg Halloween parade. Then you add Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim who stepped off a curb and reportedly attacked Perce for insulting the Prophet. Then you have a judge (Judge Mark Martin) who threw out the criminal charges against Elbayomy and ridiculed the victim, Perce.
There’s video of the attack at the link above. Jon Turley was kind enough to provide a transcript of some of the Judge’s remarks, which, while admirable in terms of its purported respect for the Muslim culture, is nonetheless an abjectly grotesque butchering of the jurisprudence and history of the First Amendment:
In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.
Here in our society, we have a Constitution that gives us many rights, specifically First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers intended. I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures – which is what you did.
I don’t know how else to grapple with this other than to simply point out that the judge got the law blatantly and utterly wrong. Here is Justice Brennan writing for the majority in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989):
A principal function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger.
Jon Turley, who represented Dr. Ali Al-Timimi when he was charged with inciting violence against the government, is on the same page:
I fail to see the relevance of the victim’s attitude toward Muslims or religion generally. He had a protected right to walk in the parade and not be assaulted for his views. While the judge laments that “[i]t’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others,” that is precisely what the Framers had in mind if Thomas Paine is any measure.
There is absolutely no affirmative defense to the crime of assault that involves invoking your First Amendment right to religion. Your religious beliefs cannot and will not ever justify physically attacking someone on the grounds that the content of their speech is deeply offensive to you. This is a concept so deeply ingrained in our legal history that even the most egregious offenses against a 3rd party’s morals and/or conscience cannot be made to justify a violent response.
Hence the reason why the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church when they were sued for protesting at the funeral of a dead American soldier, despite the fact that it was unquestionably offensive to the friends and family of the deceased, and many of them would’ve probably liked to punch the WBC protesters in the face. And hence the reason why the Court held in Texas v. Johnson that your right to burn an American flag is constitutionally protected speech, despite the fact that it unquestionably deeply offends people who believe with conviction that the flag represents a body of morals, ideals and beliefs that are worth dying for; that it is not just “another symbol,” and that it is the closest thing to a sacred symbol one can find in American civic culture; to the point where an offended person would undoubtedly have violent designs if you sullied its visage in their presence.
What bothers me most about this case is that it will inevitably be misconstrued by good-faith advocates for the Muslim community and Islamophobes alike. There will be those in the former camp who will probably sympathize with the man who attacked the protester, and blame the protester for purposefully inciting the passion of devout Muslims. The latter will undoubtedly use the judge’s ill-advised diatribe and the violent act of the Muslim attacker as evidence that Islamic values are in fact incompatible with American society, and will use this incident as yet another anecdote to justify the imposition of intolerable discrimination and cruelties against the broader Muslim community (such as the Park 51 controversy).
And therein lies the issue: allowing this sort of violence to stand makes it more difficult to soothe the American body-politic’s trenchant Islamophobia by sending a dubious message: the law will not protect you if you say or do something that is offensive to a devout Muslim. That is the wrong message to send if we are trying to get people to eschew their parochial fear of Islamic culture and replace it with cosmopolitan cultural values.
That’s why it is so imperative that we apply the law equally in cases like this. The line is simple and clearly drawn: you don’t get to hit people for saying something that offends you. It does not matter that your offense comes from deeply and sincerely held religious convictions, or strong secular ideological prescriptions. You don’t get to use violence to vindicate your offended conscience. It cannot be gainsaid that we would not likely tolerate this from a member of a different faith. We most certainly would not tolerate it if the attacker was an Agnostic or Atheist vindicating a strongly-held secular moral prescription. Why then, permit of an exception for Muslims? Does it not show a deep condescension to the innate morality of Muslim believers that they can’t be expected to restrain themselves from violence if their convictions are impugned?
Protecting the rights of Muslim Americans, and destroying the shibboleths of Islamophobia in America means we must reject the invitation to make exceptions for those who would use faith as an excuse to do violence to others. We are constantly fighting against a politics which asserts: “All Muslims are like this.” No, they clearly aren’t. But if the law assumes that they are, then the struggle to achieve social equality and respect for Muslim Americans is already lost. Permitting of such exceptions is both absurd and dangerous, and we should reject the invitation to carve out any exception in the law that leads us inexorably down that path.
“Libyans are Muslims, but we are moderate Muslims,” Abdel Jalil said in the eastern city of Benghazi today, following his vow to scrap statutes that don’t conform to Islamic law. The changes would include the banning of interest on housing loans and the application of the Islamic legal code to marriage and divorce…
“We, as an Islamic state, have adopted the Islamic Shariah as the main source of legislation,” he said. “Any law that runs contrary to the Islamic principles of the Islamic Shariah is legally void…” Libya’s banking industry will be Shariah-compliant because interest “brings about diseases and creates hatred…”
That sound you heard was thousands of right-wing heads exploding, because they don’t know anything about sharia. Mali, Kazakhstan and Turkey are secular nations that use sharia law “for personal or family matters,” Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Sudan “have legal systems strongly influenced by sharia, but also cede ultimate authority to their constitutions and the rule of law.” Then of course, there’s a country that has no constitution or legislature, a theocracy based on sharia that happens to be America’s arch enemy: Saudi Arabia. Oh no, wait… Saudi Arabia is one of our most important allies, like Egypt and Pakistan.
Faiz Shakir talks about the Islamophobia report on Olbermann
Want to know what’s up with those Peter King Muslim hearings, anyway? Tim Murphy has you covered:
Answers to all the questions in “Peter King’s Radicalization Hearings, Explained.”
Real-time updates from the hearings. Now with more sardonic humor.
Oh, and some background: “Peter King’s Terrorism Problem.”
Keith Ellison on Twitter after speaking at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing. Read the full transcript here.