Jeffrey Tayler - "The left has Islam all wrong"
Photo by Tatyana Shchukina
Los Angeles Review of Books
According to Jeffrey Tayler, "The left has Islam all wrong: Bill Maher, Pamela Geller and the reality progressives must face" (Salon, May 10, 2015), adding the lede, "Confusion over Islam and how to relate to it imperils free speech, without which no secular republic can survive." And he poses a question about the left's tendency to look upon Islam with indulgence:
What is it about Islam that simultaneously both motivates jihadis to kill and so many progressives to exculpate the religion, even when the killers leave no doubt about why they act? The second part of the question is easier to dispense with than the first. Progressives by nature seek common ground and believe people to be mostly rational actors - hence the desire to blame crime on social ills. Unfamiliarity with Islam's tenets also plays a role, plus, I believe, the frightening future we would seem to be facing as more and more Muslims immigrate to the West, and the world becomes increasingly integrated. Best just to talk of poverty and the like, or a few "bad apples." But to respond to the question's first part, we need to put aside our p.c. reading glasses and examine Islam's basic elements from a rationalist's perspective. Islam as a faith would not concern progressives, except that some of its adherents choose to act as parts of its dogma ordain, which, to put it mildly, violates the social contract underpinning the lives of the rest of us.Tayler doesn't let Judaism or Christianity off lightly, either, but he saves his strongest language for Islam because . . .
. . . the Prophet Muhammad transformed the Judeo-Christian Despot on High into an even more menacing, wrathful ogre, whose gory punishments meted out to hapless souls after death fill many a Koranic verse. Shirk, or associating another being with God, is, of course, a paramount sin in Islam. Iconoclasm, or smashing asunder God's rival deities as represented in idols, was and remains a favorite pastime of Islamist totalitarians, as was tragically demonstrated by the Taliban's 2001 demolition of the awe-inspiring Buddhas of Bamiyan, or ISIS's devastation of ancient statues in Iraq. Such crimes are not perversions of Islam, but actions based on its canon and a fanatical desire to emulate its luminaries. To wit, after conquering Mecca, none other than the Prophet Muhammad (whose life Muslims hold to be exemplary) devastated the 360 idols of the Kaaba; and the Quran (Surat al-Anbiya', 21:57-58) recounts how the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Jews and Christians) broke apart idols. Monotheistic Islam and destruction, thus, go hand in hand, along with the (intolerant, divisive) proclamation that the Quran is the Final Testament, God's last word to humanity, superseding the previous (equally preposterous) "revelations" of Judaism and Christianity.You see? I told you he was hard on Judaism and Christianity! Against Islam, he is of course harsher:
The only path to victory in this war in defense of free speech lies through courage. We cannot wimp out and blame the victims for drawing cartoons, writing novels, or making movies. We need to heed Gérard Biard, Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief, who declared, as he received the PEN award, that "They don't want us to write and draw. We must write and draw. They don't want us to think and laugh. We must think and laugh. They don't want us to debate. We must debate."On free speech, I fully agree with Tayler. We are forced to speak out, forced to freely speak our minds:
This is not a battle we have chosen; the battle has chosen us.Inspiring words. A call to courage. With potentially deadly consequences . . .
It's time to fight back, and hard.