When Bill Maher strayed from the rules of political correctness and blamed Islam for the actions of its followers, it was clear that the rage of apologists for murder, vandalism, and suppression of free speech (all in the name of protecting the masses from western “imperialism) would follow soon.
And the wait wasn’t long. Over at truthdig.com, Juan Cole has a totally ridiculous piece attacking Maher. It starts awfully.
Maher ironically has de facto joined an Islamophobic network that is funded by the Mellon Scaife Foundation and other philanthropies tied to the American Enterprise Institute, etc. which is mainly made up of evangelical Christians, bigoted American Jews who would vote for the Likud Party if they could, and cynical Republican businessmen and politicians casting about for something with which to frighten working class Americans into voting for them.
Nice ad hominem attack to discredit criticism.
It is significant that Maher tries to pin the label “murderer” on the Muslims (or half of them?) Because one of the centerpieces of classical Western hatred of Jews was the blood libel, the allegation that they stole the babies of Christians and sacrificed them in secret rituals. It is hard to see what the difference is between that and arguing that some 3 million American Muslims are walking around like a grenade with the pin pulled out. Both blood libels configure a non-Christian group as homicidal, and locate the impulse for their alleged killing sprees in secret religious beliefs opaque to the normal Christian.
Hmm. When were Muslims driven out of whole towns and beaten up in large numbers based on specific accusations like kidnapping children? For those familiar with the history of Jewish pogroms and the actual pain and terror caused by blood libels, this is a nauseating trivialization of human suffering. The comparison is ugly and reprehensible. As for half of Muslims wanting to kill you, if you are an adulterer or apostate, among certain Muslim populations (not all), you can make that 80%. And, shocker, the more devout they are, the more likely they will want to kill you for these “crimes”.
The analysis of the roots of riots in Islamic nations isn’t any better.
The touchiness of Muslims about assaults on the Prophet Muhammad is in part rooted in centuries of Western colonialism and neo-colonialism during which their religion was routinely denounced as barbaric by the people ruling and lording it over them. That is, defending the Prophet and defending the post-colonial nation are for the most part indistinguishable, and being touchy over slights to national identity (and yes, Muslimness is a kind of national identity in today’s world) is hardly confined to Muslims.
Right, so let’s place the blame anywhere but at the doorstep of religion. Let’s ignore the fact the demands for “respect” for prophet do not have their roots in colonialism, but in the Koran and the Hadith. Let’s ignore that Muslims were not the only people subjected to colonial rules, and yet they are the only ones reacting this way. Let’s completely ignore the issue of free speech here, and the fact that none of the “offenses” took place on a Muslim nation’s soil.
In India, dozens of Christians have sometimes been killed by rioting Hindus angry over allegations of missionary work. Killing people because you think they tried to convert members of your religion to another religion? Isn’t it because such a conversion is an insult to your gods? [This is followed by a number of other examples of violence committed in the name of other religions.]
Does Cole have no shame? Doesn’t he recognize that the events are nowhere nearly comparable to Islamic violence in their scale? Is there a single other example of riots from North Africa all the way to Southeast Asia, complete with governments officials in some of these counties putting bounties on the heads of US citizens? Is he not aware of “moderate” Muslims trying to change the international law and enforce their restrictions on speech on the rest of us? Did Hindus, Jews, or Buddhist ever try to pull off such a thing?
Maher is using his position as a comedic gadfly to promote hatred of one-sixth of humankind, and that is wrong, any way you look at it.
The way I see it, he is trying to expose the nature of Islam while few others are doing that, in some cases for fear for their lives, quite literally.