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{Personal note: I’ve been on both ends of this stick. I’ve been called a bigot, and have called others bigots, though I strongly avoid using the term half-hazardly. I have criticized organizations and fanatic interpretations of ideologies, especially in cult research, and have moderated forums where people have made broad statements against whole cultures or even all religions. Therefore, I ask the reader to consider that I am intimately aware of people crying “bigot” as an argumentative trump card, yet also aware that sometimes the shoe fits.}

I’ve followed the Drudge Report as a general news portal regularly for a few years now, and don’t mind (or find it amusing rather) his flair for repeatedly picking out links that buck certain issues. It’s an odd art-form, with news as the canvas and rhetoricfro framing.  He seems to use meticulously-chosen photos to flatter or deflate characters at will, or drive home implications, even if the news sources themselves don’t. Not truly yellow, perhaps one could call it “sepia tone journalism”.

On 9-11 of this year (2010), a link on Matt Drudge’s site read “‘Very spiritual’ Muslim woman kills 2 in factory shooting… “, led you to a local Philadelphia news article titled “Co-Worker Calls Alleged Shooter: ‘Very Spiritual'”. Riding the tide of sentiments that “devout Muslim” means militant fanatic, one would follow Drudge’s implied meaning that it was a religiously-motivated shooting. Instead, it was a disgruntled employee who snapped after being suspended and escorted from the building — what our society would characterize as a classic “going postal”. The article didn’t even mention her faith until late in the article, and her co-workers of different faiths were also “spiritual” describing both her and the victims as good people.

But why did Drudge describe her as Muslim when it wasn’t pertinent? Not to nit-pick, but wouldn’t it be odd to report on a local shooting — something that is not a rare occurrence by any means — and use other descriptors in the title like “Urban Black man” or “Proud Lesbian kills 2 in factory shooting”? Doesn’t that plant a preconceived notion of motivation (or worse) before one reads the article, if they read it at all?

Before we continue, let me make this clear: I am not accusing Drudge of intentionally promoting fear or prejudice. I don’t think he’s a bigot. I’m saying he should know better, or if he does, he bent his morals to maintain viewership. And I’m saying that any of us could make similar mistakes, especially with the recent bombardment of fear over [[Islamism]].

Islamism versus Islamophobia

Radical, militant Islam is a real threat. Bigoted Islamophobia is just as real. But they are not exclusive beliefs, where one who is against such prejudice must be seen as apologetic of radical Islam (I’ve been accused of that several times), or one who is against radicalism must be prejudiced against all of Islam. Just as political Islam — Islamism — is intertwined with but not synonymous with [[Islam]] the religion, all who are voicing concern are not neo-fascists like [[Geert Wilders]] or bigots like [[David Horowitz]], the man tied to many of the hate speech sites and blogs being shared around social media recently. But some of us critics ARE bigoted, and saying it’s all the liberals crying wolf with the usual race card doesn’t excuse it, as hard as those in the vein of the aforementioned try.

There’s whole spectrum of reactions against Islam, from calls to violence, genocide, and general hate speech defining anything Islamic as fear-worthy, to expressed concerns over cultural warfare and more reasoned views that the target is an extremism, giving credit to millions of Muslims that are not. Of course there’s the cliche some people spread that there’s no such things as moderate Muslims, but that requires a level of ignorance or dishonesty beyond the scope of educational or logical cures that I could offer here.

Why Conservatives Are Really Concerned

I’ve studied the propaganda out there against Islam (not merely dangerous radicalism), and observed a systematic grovelling to man’s base instincts of tribalism, survival, and resistance to change. But why do such things appeal more strongly to Conservatives? Because they address real issues in American society. Consciously, Islam may be rationalized as a poster child for what’s eating them, but it’s not really about Islam.

First, we’re tired of political correctness. Some of us don’t even know how to address groups of people when such a distinction may be useful. From ever-changing ethnic preferences to how a man should shake a woman’s hand, we don’t know even when we’re walking on glass. And we’d rather not walk on it at all and just be mature about it. Seriously, many of the people in these “groups” don’t even care — such as Indians being renamed Native Americans and changing the logos of sports teams because of it. Half of us are offended on their behalf, and the other half’s patience is wearing thin.

But more than that, our relatively liberal society is DISCRIMINATNLY tolerant to the point many of us feel our own cultural identity is marginalized — we are afraid to offend some people and not others in a resentful game of double-standard. And this must change, and take away the excuse for prejudices instead of feed it from the other direction. The irony is that Christians (an alleged oppressive majority), bear the brunt of secular radicalism that challenges their own religious freedom in the public realm, then respond by beating up on someone else.

The reason the issues of Islam are ripe now, instead of nine years ago, is the green light has been given to our discouraged fears and repressed prejudices by eager, truly bigoted bloggers and authors busting from the fringe to the mainstream. The Manhattan center / mosque was simply the escape route for such counter-extremism to make it to the limelight.

It’s NOT Really About Islam

Psychologically, this is piggy-backed on the issue of illegal immigration. The assumption that Muslims are refusing “assimilation” into Western culture is a half-truth at best, but there is a real sentiment that we’re requiring less of them as citizens than our own ancestral immigrants. That may be true, given our modern propensity for over-compensating “sensitivities” to “people of color”, whomever that may mean at the moment. The fear of Sharia law being imposed may be ludicrous, but the precedent of Spanish street signs and labels on everything across much of the country gives such a fictitious impression some sense of plausibility. And when an associate of mine made the odd statement about them “out-breeding us”, I wasn’t sure if he meant Muslims or Hispanics — that ploy has been recycled too many times to be sure. (There’s more to that statement, and reminiscent of 1903’s Germany in relation to another “group” of people, but that’s for another time.)

In an effort to not be bigoted, our society has pushed some to the other extreme. We’re discouraged from talking negatively about Islam at all, as if it has a free pass on criticism. The intended result is the opposite — we want to stretch our freedom of speech into rationalized moral profanity, if only out of spite from being told to keep quiet even when sensible. We’re not intentionally bigoted, just defiant, and rightfully so. But there is still a lot of blatant bigotry out there making people with legitimate concerns look bad.

Okay, Sometimes It’s About Islam

I wont argue here that Islam is a diverse religion of cultural traditions around the world with many different interpretations of scripture, with human beings that like any other group fill the spectrum from from casual to fanatic. That is a fact that either one will accept or lie about to themselves and others. But much of what is said about Islam is religious opinion. Their scripture is deemed false by some who strongly prefer their own scripture at the exclusion of all else, and Allah may be considered a different God from theirs, Father Ibrahim’s opinion notwithstanding. Is this bigotry? I am hesitant to call it that, no matter how ridiculous it is from my own point of view. But it is ignorant to assert as a truth to be accepted among everyone. So if it doesn’t make you a bigot so much as an intolerant jerk, so long as you can at least refrain from making generalizations about the personal characteristics of an alleged oppositional believer. And only when such intolerance is preached to the effect of creating a generalized fear and acts of political condemnation in society (breach of rights) does it become hate speech.

Let’s be clear. Thinking you are right and others are wrong is an intellectual right; but it is universal, not limited to one person or another who assumes such a thing. Imposing one’s view by expecting it to be taken as truth by all is the negation of that right, and kills meaningful discourse dead. Such things should be preached to the choir, or if the windows are open, a bit more politely, just in case.


Is radical Islam a real, global problem? Of course it is. It’s a black eye to all Muslims, and the backlash of so many of us joining on the bandwagon of untempered LICENSE of Speech is making any American with a hijab pressed tightly between both ends. People ought to be able to openly criticize any aspect of such things, but wholesale condemnation is ignorant — and bigotry. And any call to fear, oppress, or take action against a religion or ethnicity should be considered hate speech — because it is. In other words, we can call for regime change in a nation, but not nuking their population; we can call for the combating against a fanaticism, but not against everyone who is considered to possess the underlying ideology that some take to fanatic extremes.

The position I’ve put myself in, in many a heated debate, is such that fighting against our prejudices is not ignoring real problems, but tending to the one problem we can truly take responsibility for. Defending Islam or it’s right to exist is not defending terrorism. But it works both ways — speaking out against real issues in Islam is not prejudice. Condemning the words and actions of extremists is not bigotry. Only when we equate Islam and Muslims in general with the human evils contained within are we crossing the line.