Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why the opposition to Islam?

Jay Tea at Wizbang looks at the reasons for opposition to Islam on the part of many Americans.

There is something visceral, something deeply passionate, about the opponents' sentiments that surprises a lot of people. In others, it is entirely understandable. But in either case, it's hard to put into words.
Here's my theory, that most people find hard to verbalize.

America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and tenets. ("Ju-DAY-o! Ju-DAY-AY-AY-o! Judeo-Christian, what de hell is dat?") Sorry, folks... What that means is that when we think of "religion," we tend to think of it in terms of Christianity or Judaism, and see it through that prism.

Christianity is pretty much separated from politics, at least in the way most of the world thinks. We don't have a "Christian" party or official state church, and only the mercifully-few tiny fringe wants to have the government enforce Christian tenets and rules. We have taken to heart the "separation of church and state" to heart in an intrinsic sense when it comes to Christianity. There are Christians in government -- hell, they dominate -- but they are hardly unified and stand solidly on both sides of most issues.

To most Americans, there is a firm wall between faith and politics. The two influence the other, but it is almost strictly an internal struggle. Those who talk about the religious right as an "American Taliban" only go to show just how utterly full of shit they are.

Judaism is a bit closer to extending their faith beyond the purely theological. "Jewish" has multiple meanings. It's a faith, it's a culture, it's a race, it's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping. (OK, maybe not the last two.) There are Jewish atheists and Jewish Christians. (That last group -- "Jews for Jesus" -- tends to piss off Jewish Jews. I know of two in particular.) Israel is a Jewish nation, but accepts all three definitions of "Jew."

And then there's Islam. It's a faith, like Judaism and Christianity, but it's a lot more besides. In its truest form, it's a "one-stop shopping" that covers religion, social structure, economics, politics, foreign relations, law -- everything that we all take for granted as being apart from "religion."

It's those other, "non-religious" aspects that are part and parcel of "Islam" that cause the objections. That generate such fierce pushback, such staunch resistance.

That is what we speak of when we talk about the "fundamental incompatibility" between Islam and the West. The religious aspects of Islam -- no problem. We got plenty of weirdos already who believe plenty of crazy things. We got Mormons, we got Scientologists, we got Pastafarians, we got god-hating Atheists, we got tree-worshipping Gaeans, we got Wiccans. We can handle Muslims.

It's all the other baggage that comes with Islam that causes the problems. All the other baggage that tries to worm its way in under the "religion" exception.

To us, that's a form of "bait and switch." We're saying, "hey, practice your religion, but all that other crap you're trying to foist off on us -- that's not religion. We already have our own politics, legal system, social structure, economics, and whatnot."
So, back to James' question. What do I think about this trend for locals to resist the establishment of mosques in their neighborhoods?

Two things. First, in most cases, these are local issues, and will most likely be settled locally.

Second, for nigh on a decade we've heard the incessant whining about the "anti-Muslim backlash" that is just around the corner, as hate-filled, intolerant Americans rise up and do unspeakable things against individual Muslims as revenge for the actions of others who proclaim to share the same faith. If "we're going to make trouble for you in zoning hearings" is the worst, then my faith in the fundamental fairness and decency of the American people is, indeed, well founded.

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