Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Geert Wilders on Islam: Ideology or Religion?

Geert Wilders
(Image from Wikipedia)

Jonathan Kay, editor of the National Post, a Canadian-based newspaper, offers a defense of the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders in an article titled "Geert Wilders' problem with Islam" (May 8, 2011).

Wilders is "controversial" for such things as his remarks on Muhammad, describing "the Muslim Prophet as a dictator, a pedophile and a warmonger," so I think that we can infer that he doesn't like Muhammad, but he insists that such dislike doesn't extend to Muslims generally: "I don't hate Muslims. I hate their book and their ideology."

Mr. Kay offers a somewhat murky gloss on this point:
[I]n the modern, politically correct Western tradition, hatred expressed toward a religion typically is held on the same level of human-rights opprobrium as hatred expressed toward a race or an ethnicity. But Islam is not really a religion at all, as Mr. Wilders sees it, but rather a retrograde political ideology with religious trappings.
And he adds of Wilders that:
[H]is insistence on the proper distinction between faith and ideology is an idea that deserves to be taken seriously.
I know too little of Wilders to know if he's making such a distinction, but I wouldn't make the distinction myself. Faith -- by which I suppose is meant an authentic religious belief -- includes ideology, if we mean by that term a system of ideas.

I think that we have the right to criticize any ideology, including a religious system of ideas, which are often the most dangerous sort of ideas, as we can see nearly every day in the news.

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At 12:54 PM, Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Remember, class: The West "invades". Islam "spreads".

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If you weren't being ironic in that comment, you'd have to call yourself "The Insanity Spector"!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:48 PM, Blogger Nathan Rein said...

I completely agree with your post. I've seen this specious argument so many times -- i.e., that "genuine" religion is non-ideological -- that I've become kind of fascinated with its persistence. What do you think people actually mean when they say it? That "real" religion doesn't challenge the status quo as the speaker experiences it? That's my best guess so far. Seems like a mighty impoverished understanding of "religion," though, in that case.

At 3:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'm not sure what they mean. Some might mean that true religion is merely a pious attitude attached to no dogmas, but this would amount to a thinly attenuated form of religion that I just don't see much when I look at the religions in the world.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My reply seems to have been trashed by Blogger's 'maintenance', but I can say that I suspect that some think that 'true' religion is no more than an attitude, perhaps of piety, but without content.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Scott A. said...

Wilders was in Nashville recently:


At 12:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'd seen reports of that, but thanks for the link.

By the way, linking is easy on this blog -- just see the instructions under "Leave your comment."

Jeffery Hodges

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