Is it Fair to Criticize Islam: Or is That Always Bigotry?


Commentary by Scott Simon on NPR’s “All Things Considered” crystalized my thinking on the issue of alleged discrimination against Moslems. Scott is the same fellow who interviewed my friend David Powell on the phenomenon of WV Irish Road Bowling several years ago.

He explained that Italy and Iran are engaged in negotiations for billions of dollars in business deals. The President of Iran travelled to Rome to meet with Italian government and business leaders, so, “as a show of respect” the classical Roman and Hellenistic nude statues of Rome, along the President’s route of travel, were “boxed up”, much like women in Iran are required to cover up.

The consensus of Italians was that this “show of respect” for the President was a slap in the face to Italians and their history and culture, and downright silly.

Scott pointed out that when people travel, sometimes they like to “take a peek” at novel and different things. I might add that if the President and his people are unable to modernize, Iran and other Moslem countries will never be able to compete in the modern global competitive economy. And, remember, even our friends like Saudi Arabia are repressive to women, gays, etc.

Jeb Bush showed some guts by arguing that we cannot paint all Moslems with the same brush, bar them from America, or alienate the law-abiding “moderate Moslems”.

I agree. I have never seen my tolerant, moderate, wife be more turned off and disgusted by a candidate than she is by Donald Trump and the polarized Republican field of candidates, and their closed-mindedness.

BUT, that does not mean that we can simply treat the potential floods of Moslem refugees into Europe or America  the same as Irish or Hispanic or Asian peoples. Our culture is steeped in tolerance and equality, and outliers are shunned and criticized. We may or may not have a private right to bear arms, but at the very core of America is the dignity and freedom of the individual.

Bush said the key is whether they are willing to take an oath of citizenship, adopt our values, and become loyal immigrants or citizens. And there’s the rub. It’s not just Moslem vs. Christian. It is modernity vs. tribal or mediaeval culture.

It isn’t just, “Will they take an oath? If the “average Moslem” believes in different standards for men and women, believes women can be required to be covered from head to foot, believes homosexuals can have their limbs cut off, the little girls’ genitalia can be mutilated (African) and limit women’s ability to drive, work, or even appear in public, America cannot afford to have a large segment of its citizenry with that belief system. I remain puzzled by the relative silence of the women’s right movement. Has it faded, or are they too “politically correct”?

Part of this is simply the conflict between the secular/scientific mode of thinking and the religious/supernatural mythic mode of thinking. I criticize my friend’s Scientology for its pseudo-science, a warped form of psychology called “the clear”, Mormons’ discrimination against women, Catholicism’s exclusion of women from the priesthood, and Episcopal and Methodist resistance to openly gay priests and ministers. So, also, I believe it is wrong to teach in church and Sunday school that myth and metaphor and as my friend Lawrence Kammer says, “stories”, are the literal truth.

Baruch Spinoza, and Epicurus and Lucretius 1500-2000 years earlier, figured out that ancient scriptures were explanations written by uneducated, insightful, but essentially ignorant “prophets”. In fact, Spinoza believed most of it was collated and summarized hundreds of years after the fact by a prophet named Ezra.

Science has since debunked every “miracle”; no wine to water, no rising from the dead, no multiplication of fishes, no ark, no “two by two”, and no casting of demons from a mad woman into a herd of swine who then jumped of the cliff. No Jonah; no flying to heaven, and no heaven. We are crippled, or at least hobbled, while such silliness exists.

And, the essential teachings of Jesus, Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), Confucius, and other profound religious and ethical teachers and do not need to be bolstered by the supernatural. Those trappings were not added to Buddhism during his lifetime, but only hundreds of years later as an inevitable result of “prophets” who invent these “stories” to make their guy look really, really, special.

So, the people of Italy need to demand their art treasures are unboxed. The President can avert his eyes, but maybe just one little Peek?

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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