It all started with this statement in the comments of Daily Kos:
Moslem fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists are not very different.
Tacitus picked it up and a long discussion started in his comments. Based on this statement, Aziz divided Muslims and Christians into three groups: fundamentalist, violent and normal.
However, I do want to point out that the question as posed is inherently comparing apples to oranges. It has to do with a double standard, applied to Muslims and Christians, about the very word “fundamentalist”. Fundie Christians (FC) actually comprise a significant fraction of mainstream Christianity in America, because it’s a diluted concept. It simply means, “Christian who is aggressive about prosletyzation, and about judgement”. The former leads mainly to annoyance, the latter to often overt discrimination since Christians are still the most powerful majority in the US. Judgement means, “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’re hellbound, I am saved”. This often leads FC’s to bizarre morality judgements —- Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are obvious examples, blaming 9-11 on homosexuals (the irony of this is clear when you consider the actions of Mark Bingham, a hero of United Flight 93.) Despicable, but hardly violent.
There ARE violent Christians —- most notably the abortion doctor murderers, but also fringe groups such as the KKK and most militias and white-supremacy groups, for whom Christianity is an integral part and motive for their terrorism. But no one (myself included) includes these in the definition of “fundamentalism” when it is applied to Christianity.
For clarity, let’s call these two types “A” and “B”.
Contrast this with the word “fundamentalist” as applied to Muslims —- there are both Robertson/Falwell types of Muslims, as well as the terrorists. Both are lumped together in the word when it comes to Islam. In fact, most people who argue that Islam is inherently violent often invoke the words of Muslims of type A as proof that the actions of type B are mainstream. This is fundamentally dishonest (pun intended), though to be fair it is also unconscious.
[…]if you hold Islam as a faith accountable for the actions of its type B minority, then it is hypocrisy not to do the same for Christianity (which has plenty of type B examples to go around, without any need for invoking the Crusades). And likewise if you use the words of type A muslims to suggest a predisposition towards type B, likewise hypocrisy.
Overall, the vast majority of Christians and Muslims are type C. Normal people. With families jobs, desires, dreams. They live and let livem practice their faith, and go about their business. But the double standard bias which exists, especially in America (which is not unusual, given that the US has a strongly Christian majority), certainly obscures these parallels.
Having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed today, I was a bit snarky in the comments section and not at all helpful for the discussion. Deoxy replied to me:
Your role is to CONDEMN the attacks, to CONDEMN the attackers. Maybe you have done that —- but countless other muslims have not. They say things like, “That was really bad, but you have to understand …”.
That is not condemnation —- that’s a token, CYA kind of thing. That says that the real enemy is the US or the West, or whatever. Condemnation looks like this:
“The attacks of September 11th (or whatever attack it is that has just happened —- there have been plenty of other opportunities) are evil and completely unjustifiable by any means. The men who carried out these attacks, as well as the men who helped and supported them, are not true followers of Islam or are, at the very least, extremely, extremely misled. They are not martyrs to the cause of Islam, they are murderers.”
THAT is condemnation. How many muslims said anything like that? Did you? If so, great —- now just convince the majority of muslims (or even a sizable minority) to support something like that, and this whole debate starts going in your favor.
What other conclusion am I to draw when almost no muslims condemn mass-murder? Silence does not equal disapproval!
Celebration in the streets equals approval.
Zack: what should you do? From a “universalist” perspective, of course <g> I think you should convert to Christianity — I wouldn’t be true to my own faith if I didn’t. But, what should you as a Muslim do? Exactly what Aziz is doing — denounce the type B’s. Loudly, often, and publicly. And convince others Muslims to join you — including when Saudi money sends Wahabi clerics to teach hate in American (or London) mosques; reject the money and throw ‘em out (I realize that this is beginning to happen). Point out the hypocritcal soft-peddling of CAIR — which seemed more worried in Sept 2001 about the mere possibility of an anti-Muslim backlash than they were about the actual death of 3000 Americans, and winks at actual terrorist activity. Ditto AMC. Object to the odious “root causes” arguments, which are really just disguised “evil America deserves whatever happens to her” polemics. Realize that when a Muslim or Arab is arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity, he may actually be guilty of said charge — it’s not automatically the fault of a racist anti-Muslim FBI, contrary to CAIR’s instant press releases each and every time. I think they have a macro for that in their word processors.
And organize a non-Idiotarian Muslim lobbying group, that doesn’t roll in the anti-American muck that CAIR and AMC do, and convince the mainstream media — and the White House — to go to THAT group, and not CAIR/AMC, when they want to hear an American Muslim perspective. Maybe Kabbani’s Islamic Supreme Council of America; if CAIR and AMC dislike him he must be okay. <g> There are a few other outspoken Muslims who aren’t apologists for the Jihadis — Aziz is one, there’s Ali Asani at Harvard, there’s Bassam Tibi in Germany, there was Seif Ashmawy in Egypt (but he died a few years ago).
But not AMC (Alamoudi: “We are all supporters of Hamas … I am also a supporter of Hizballah”), or ISNA (Siddiqi organized the rally at which Alamoudi made the statement above, and did not condemn it; perhaps he was dissuaded by the cheering crowds?) or CAIR (Nihad Awad: the conviction of Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman for the first WTC bombing was a “hate crime
against Muslims”, and the conviction of the other four conspirators was “a travesty of justice” because … wait for it … the Jews did it). Which brings up a whole nother point: blaming the “Zionist Conspiracy” for every trouble the Arab or Muslim world has, robs Muslims of any credibility in the US. You want serious treatment? Denounce the anti-Jewish hatred and associated paranoiaics.
As you can see (rather read) I am still in a bad mood. So I am going to take Deoxy and Chuck’s advice and have one post daily condemning terrorism.