Peter Wilkinson (pwilkinson) wrote,
Peter Wilkinson

When liberals turn Islamophobe

I have twice got myself into unpleasant arguments about medieval history - and both times (to caricature a bit) my opponents telling me that Islam was so e-e-evil that "Islamic civilisation", in any period, was a contradiction in terms and that I must be some kind of apologist for Islam to suggest otherwise. The second time was in a Wikipedia edit spat - the first, a few weeks after 9/11 was with someone who, up to then, I'd respected as a genuine liberal and, with severe reservations, still do. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Moon has just demonstrated, nearly eight years later, that her views on Islam have not changed.

Well, more than enough people have piled into her this time and I'm not going to add to them, as she obviously isn't going to change her views on the topic (except perhaps to harden them further). But I would note that in this she is just an extreme case of a phenomenon I've come across repeatedly during the past few years - the person whose liberal views attenuate or vanish when Islam is the topic of discussion.

So, if that's you (and it probably is most of us to some extent, including me), don't assume that just because some Muslims believe that Islam mandates terrorism against non-Muslims or apostates, or female circumcision, or wearing burqas, or telling non-Muslims how to lead their lives, that most or all do - or that it's the real Islamic view. Islam contains as great a spectrum of views as Christianity (or atheism), and different parts of the Quran are just as open to different readings as the Bible. And while terrorism or female circumcision must not be condoned, accept that those who believe these to be enjoined by their religion usually do so genuinely - and that you, as a Christian, Jew or atheist, are unlikely to be able to persuade them otherwise. If you can, find another Muslim whose views they will respect to do so instead.

Yes, many Muslims living in America or Europe have found it difficult to come to an accommodation with their host societies - and even more of those living in Islamic countries have seen no point in accommodating to the non-Muslim world. But that's something to be worked on, not used as a reason to condemn or criticise their religious beliefs.


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