From Sarah Haider
Sarah Haider is a writer, speaker, and activist. Born in Pakistan and raised in Texas, she was a practicing Shia Muslim until she left the faith in her teenage years. In 2013, she cofounded Ex-Muslims of North America.
Nothing is as destructive to a political ideology as a hypocrisy exposed. An accidental hypocrisy indicates ignorance, and ignorance, thankfully, can often be remedied with evidence and reason. A willful hypocrisy, however, eats away at the foundations of the ideology, leaving it vulnerable to collapse.
Conservatives and dissenting liberals alike have noted a tendency in progressive circles to whitewash Islamic ideology and practices. Activists who (rightfully) decry intolerance against Muslims in the West will too often turn a blind eye to intolerance by Muslims anywhere in the world. The very same activists who denounce religiously motivated hostility toward gay rights by evangelicals and Mormons will ignore, or attempt to explain away, the same hostility when it is motivated by Islamic belief. Western feminists join “slutwalks” by the thousands to protest the notion that immodest clothing justifies sexual assault. But few among them speak out against Muslim norms idolizing female modesty and chastity. The ones who do face being smeared as “Islamophobes.” In a similar vein, the same progressives who recognize the importance of defending the civil liberties of Muslims in the West will overlook the abhorrent treatment of apostates in Muslim countries.
Conservatives declare that this double standard reveals the politicized and discriminatory nature of the Left’s commitment to human rights and civil liberties. The blind spot for Islam provides evidence, they argue, that “liberal values” are only a pretense, a mask of moral superiority underneath which hides a cynical tribalism. Dissenting liberals (like myself) believe that the Left’s hypocrisy points instead to a moral confusion, based on a well-intentioned desire to protect Muslims from xenophobic aggression, albeit one that provides a shield for Islamic theocrats.
At the beginning of my own activism, I had imagined that the protectiveness I saw toward Islam was due to ignorance. The solution, then, was to educate my fellow liberals. I could offer evidence that the practice of Islam by Muslims around the world is far more literal than that of the followers of most other faiths. I could point to the history of the East and prove that Islamic fundamentalism is not a unique phenomenon triggered solely by Western intervention. Fundamentalism has appeared (and been vanquished, and reappeared) countless times in the Muslim world.
What happens when we let fear, muddled thinking, ignorance, and political correctness guide us in confronting a threat to our constitutional freedoms?
We lose everything.
In the United States, our ability to enjoy our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness rests largely on the protection the First Amendment accords to freedom of speech and its corollary, the freedom to exercise the religion of our choice – or, of course, to profess no religion at all. It follows, then, that we should both vigorously defend the First Amendment and subject to withering criticism any challenges to it. If we begin dodging or concealing the truth about a threat to free speech, whether out of fear of appearing improper or even of knowing the consequences, we place ourselves at risk of losing our freedom of speech – and everything else we cherish in a democracy.
Speech consists of words. Words and how we use them matter. So, in the annals of self-defeating political inanities, the Obama administration’s term for Islamist terrorism – “violent extremism” – stands out as unusually obfuscatory, semantically unsound, and craven. (The phrase encompasses other kinds of terrorist doctrines as well, but no one can fail to see which one in particular is being addressed.) Originating as ISIS-inspired attacks were starting to hit the United States, it baldly omits their motivating ideology and purports that “extremism” can exist as a rootless, groundless, free-floating phenomenon. The term was so patently contrived to avoid mention of Islam that Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, during last year’s presidential campaign, could appear courageous to many just by saying “Islamic terrorism.” Yet coining the insipid phrase “violent extremism” was just par for the course. Former President Obama’s repeated declarations that the faith in question had nothing to do with all the bombing, beheading, and machete-slashing carried out to the cry of “Allahu Akbar!” looked, at best, cowardly – and at worst, complicit. Hillary Clinton followed Obama’s lead on the matter – all the way to a historic loss at the polls.
The Hijab and the Regressive Left’s Absurd Campaign to Betray Freethinking Women
The first woman in a hijab to anchor a television news broadcast! To dance as a ballerina! To fence in the Olympics! To — cue for gasps at the sheer progressive splendor of the moment — pose in Playboy!
Headlines proclaiming such “firsts” — performed by Muslim women living, nota bene, in the United States and Canada — have appeared often in the press over the past couple of years. Surely by now you’ve seen them. The associated coverage is frequently gushing, but when it is not, it is not probing, and certainly not critical. It is, in fact, part and parcel of the regressive left’s insidious attempt at brainwashing well-meaning liberals into lauding what should be, in our increasingly diverse societies, at best a neutral fact: freedom of speech means freedom of religion. Women should be free to dress as they please. Some Muslim women wear hijabs and are the first to do so in various endeavors.
By no means does freedom of religion, however, confer on religion or religious customs exemptions from criticism, satire, or even derision. The American revolutionary Thomas Paine, among others, established that. Too much is at stake. Unsupported by evidence, at odds with science, and frequently deleterious to the common good, religion and its attendant customs deserve intense, sustained rationalist scrutiny. Our fellows, of course, are free to base their lives on ancient claptrap ideologies entailing uncritical acceptance of absurdities (talking snakes, virgin births, flying horses, and so on), but they should not expect the rest of us to ignore or let pass without comment the intrusion of said claptrap into the public arena. In the United States, for example, the faith-addled — though, thankfully, dwindling in number — use their votes to the detriment of, inter alia, reproductive rights, the right to die with dignity, and public education. With religion losing its grip on the young, progressives of all ages need to seize the initiative and speak out. The established trend is toward nonbelief.
Hence, few spectacles are more puzzling, disturbing, hypocritical, and potentially damaging to women’s rights — and therefore to human progress as a whole — than the de facto campaign in some purportedly liberal press outlets to normalize the hijab and portray it as a hallmark of feminist pride and dignity, and not as a sartorial artifact of a misogynistic, seventh-century ideology, forced upon its wearers by law in some countries and by hidebound cultural norms and community and familial pressure, even violence, elsewhere.
It should shock true progressives that the hijab’s media champions are, in the majority, non-Muslim women residing in the West, working for secular publications, and enjoying the protections afforded by a secular legal environment: no one is going to force them into a hijab, or threaten or murder them if they refuse to wear it. They may well hold that they are promoting the right of a mostly nonwhite minority to dress as they please and follow the faith of their choosing, but in fact they are traducing freethinking women in this same minority — and, what’s worse, with the implicit backing of thugs, acid-throwers, and assassins. Their campaign reeks of betrayal of the most craven kind — inadvertent though it may be.
Continue article here…
From New York Post Opinions
I was raised in three Muslim majority countries — Libya, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — and arrived in North America in my mid-20s. Two years after I settled in Canada, September 11 happened. Nineteen hijackers acting in the name of my parents’ religion — 15 from a country I grew up in — flew fuel-laden airliners into the World Trade Center, killing thousands.
From the ashes, two opposing narratives began to emerge, as it happens with most issues in the US: one on the right, and one on the left.
And today, in a nation more divided than ever after a rancorous election season, the differences couldn’t be more stark.
The right is clear: We’re at war with Islamic terrorists. They started it, and we must respond. We know the common denominator here, so enough with the political correctness — we must keep our country safe, and if that means profiling Muslims, restricting Muslim immigration or even “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” as President-elect Donald Trump proposed last year, so be it.
No, says the left. We need to be nuanced. Read through our history. Islamists are simply responding to America’s atrocities around the world. We’re the imperialists who colonized them, held them down under the boot of the military-industrial complex and built our civilization at their expense. We must look at the underlying grievances and root causes driving this. The “biggest terrorist operation that exists,” according to uber-leftist hero Noam Chomsky, is actually the one being run by Obama.