Arizona Atheist, one of my Skeptic Ink Network co-bloggers (who also runs a separate blog) has many posts dedicated to trashing my views and how I express them. And while none of this for me means anything but highest honor, while going over one such piece of “praise” (which I won’t link to), I came across this gem, left by a commentator but apparently expressing a view shared by him:
It’s funny how much NCNC tone has changed since that blog started. Compare the early stuff with the later. I think NCNC figured out that sensationalism and Muslim bashing gets far more attention than nuanced examinations of religion etc. Very sad.
I found this rather puzzling. First, my views on Islam have not changed since I started this blog in the summer of 2012, and a glance at some of my earliest posts should be sufficient to show this. And while I am perhaps not the best person to make this determination, my tone probably hasn’t changed that much either, if the language used by those who disagree with me on things other than Islam (such as accusing me of not being “nuanced”) is any indication. Lastly, while I am not entirely sure how much attention a post on Islam would get compared to any other, the fact is that out of the 4 longest threads in this blog, 3 of them (including #1) have not been about Islam. What I do know is that how much attention I expect a post to get has very little to do with how much attention it actually gets. Lastly, the “Muslim bashing” accusation is rather silly, given that I have insisted we should identify and work with true reformist Muslims, as much as we should stop calling those who want us to accept Islam as is “moderates”.
So why give so much time to a random concern trolling “psychoanalyst”? Because in fairness I do think he has a point-even though he doesn’t word it quite like that. Contrary to his claims, neither my views, nor my tone, have changed significantly since I started writing No Cross No Crescent. But there is no denying that my focus has shifted. I wrote about a wide variety of topics (from social justice to climate change) when I had just started. But over a period of several months, from spring to summer of 2013, most of my writings came to be about Islam, a trend that has continued since. So, what changed? What was my “ulterior motive”, if not getting attention?
I have written separately about my loss of faith. But now it appears that becoming antagonistic in particular to Islamic faith has its own story, as I did not start off that way despite having the dubious distinction of having been an atheist living under Islamist rule for a long time.
The fact is, I personally missed this gradual shift as it happened (again, somehow like the loss of faith). It is only in retrospect that I notice it. But me being a “free will” denier, I must acknowledge the existence of outside factors that brought this about, if not conscious “motives”. And I suspect I know the answer: discovering the profound chasm in which many atheists, and in general liberals (the two overlap but certainly not completely), completely dismiss (if not excuse) the problems Islam has, while harshly examine every minor issue with Christianity and any particular one of its denominations. And while I always suspected this problem, with time I noticed it to be far more pervasive than I ever thought-and one I find myself in a position to expose. And hence I have found myself writing more and more about Islam, which was not how I planned things at the outset.
To say that my experience with how atheists approach Islam has been a disappointment would be an understatement. It goes way beyond the fact that I have been trashed by Arizona Atheist and some other of my own co-bloggers for saying Islam is the cause of violence and hence the problem cannot be expected to go away unless Islam is reformed. It even goes beyond the fact that countless atheists threw their own one time champion, Richard Dawkins, under the bus as soon as he pointed out some easily verifiable facts about Islam.
What has been the breaking point for me was to discover the shocking fact that some of the most unpleasant right wing Christian conservatives, such as Sean Hannity and Dinesh D’Souza, both of whom I have written about with contempt in the past, are actually the SANE ones when it comes to Islamic ideology and its basic disrespect for human rights, even though I certainly would expect the secular MSNBC presenters, such as Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes, (or in the UK, the Gaurdian) to be those denouncing a system that treats women (quite literally) like decaying food and prescribes death by stoning as punishment for homosexuality. Unfortunately, in what has become a predictable pattern, when it comes to Islam most liberals simply stop being liberals.
And hence, I am thinking that my imperceptible but retrospectively definitive change in focus came as a result of this double standard.