Tuesday, November 02, 2010

No equal opportunity for an equal-opportunity offender?

As I noted in an earlier posting, I found Bill Maher's comments about religion in his film Religulous to be sophomoric. However, the observations were mainly aimed at Christianity and Judaism, so the mainstream media thought that they were just dandy.

Now Maher has dared to do the unthinkable: to say something unfavorable about Islam. In a recent program he expressed dismay that Mohammed is the most popular name now for boys in the United Kingdom. He referenced this comment by noting the movement for Shari'a law in that country--a movement that, up to a point, has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Unlike Juan Williams, Maher hasn't been fired--he can't be very easily, since he has his own show (though he was taken off the air briefly for some comments about 9/11).

How has it come about that any comment that is derogatory of Islam is taboo amongst our bien-pensant clerisy? When did these whited sepulchers (to use a religious term) decree that this religion--and this religion only--must always be handled with kid gloves? How can we esteem a religion that enshrines women's inequality, that practices barbaric punishments like chopping off hands, that makes homosexuals into nonpersons? We might expect some version of this affinity among our fire-breathing evangelicals, who hold very similar views, not to mention the rigorist Haredi rabbis of Gush Emunim--but how does one account for it among pious liberals?

Partly it is because they view Muslims as a minority, and therefore, like all minorities, it must be cherished and protected by the Great White Father figures. This view ignores the fact that in most parts of the world in which they live, Muslims are in the majority. A further rationale (I would suppose) is a wish to avoid the Clash of Civilizations by making nice with Muslims. Alas, it is too late for that. For better or worse, that Clash is already upon us, and suspending our heads in the sand, ostrich fashion, is not going to stop it. A final reason for the bien-pensant looniness is guilt over colonialism. However, resentment against colonialism is not going to go away or even abate because would-be-wise Westerners are now practicing self-censorship.

This stance is not merely despicable; it is ineffective.



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