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Survey finds support for restricting Muslim-Americans' freedoms
December 18, 2004 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Survey finds support for restricting Muslim-Americans' freedoms Nearly one in two Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict civil liberties for Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide Cornell University poll on terrorism fears. The survey also found respondents who identified themselves as highly religious supported restrictions on Muslim-Americans more strongly than those less religious. Curtailing civil liberties for Muslim-Americans also was supported more by Republicans than Democrats, the survey found. The amount of attention paid to TV news also had a bearing on how strongly a respondent favored restrictions
posted by Postroad (135 comments total)

 
27 percent of respondents said all Muslim Americans should be required to register their location with the federal government.
Ouch.
posted by simonw at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2004


Stuff like this is not surprising. We've known for a long time that most people's little-L liberalism is pretty thin. Ask people a set of questions to find out who they dislike the most -- commies, homosexuals, atheists, whatever -- and most people are unwilling to grant that group standard freedoms.

Ask people if they like free speech, and they'll tell you yes. Ask them if commies should be allowed to have a march, or if a homosexual should be allowed to teach in public school, and they'll tell you hell no.

So anyway, that's what you'd expect as muslims become more disliked in the US.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2004


If people are this concerned, it might make sense to have Arabs and Muslims simply wear some type of pin or patch to make them identifible. Would be a lot simpler to know who they were from a distance, an easy marker to know who to look at more closely in the airports, and it would help protect the safer brown people from getting lumped in with the others.

Also, pretty much helps keep the harmless people safe in that if someone who should be wearing a pin isn't, it's probably a safe bet they're black hats.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2004


I wonder if Bush will call them "Freedom Camps"?
posted by digaman at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2004


Guy in the article said it best:

"It's not the first time in this country's history we've seen sentiment for restricting the civil liberties of a group of people."

The population at large is pretty dumb and always has been. Fortunately, they don't make direct decisions about enforcement of the Bill of Rights. Hell, the more reptilian parts of my brain don't want the Bill of Rights to apply to people I don't like, either.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2004


If people are this concerned, it might make sense to have Arabs and Muslims simply wear some type of pin or patch to make them identifible.

I seem to recall bright yellow stars were highly effective.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:22 AM on December 18, 2004


42% of people would eat a cardboard box if someone told them it was good for them.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2004


Saucy Intruder, agreed. Some people will swallow anything.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:29 AM on December 18, 2004


Only 715 respondents. Such a terribly small sample to make claims about an entire continent. I don't know . . . something about this 'study' smells funny.
posted by johnj at 7:29 AM on December 18, 2004


---If people are this concerned, it might make sense to have Arabs and Muslims simply wear some type of pin or patch to make them identifible.

--I seem to recall bright yellow stars were highly effective.

Exactly.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2004


The great thing about having your civil rights tied to your faith, however, is that you can stop professing it in order to be "legal"... oh yeah, that's been done before too. (You can also convert to Islam and restrict your own civil rights...) How telling that it's "highly religious" people who would like to see a system like that. Once they repeal the first amendment, maybe they can finally get some of the "special rights" (the onese that have, I hear, been getting allotted to homosexuals) back for Christians?
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:40 AM on December 18, 2004


I seem to recall bright yellow stars were highly effective.

No no no! That'd just be confusing. Maybe a red sash with a crescent...
posted by Busithoth at 7:52 AM on December 18, 2004


I work with a few people who make the following argument: Who commit all the acts of terrorism? Muslims. So who should have their freedoms restricted? Muslims.

I hate my job.
posted by graventy at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2004


johnj, that was my first thought. And I still think that its a bit of a leap to take a sample size of under a thousand and project those results onto the entire nation.

And why would they need stars, aren't the turbans enough? And yes, that was inappropriate but I am kidding.

graventy, your patience must be tried on a minute to minute basis.
posted by fenriq at 7:57 AM on December 18, 2004


>>I seem to recall bright yellow stars were highly effective.

>Exactly.


You are either a bad troll, or you have no concept of what America country stands for.
posted by StephenV at 8:06 AM on December 18, 2004


Have yourself a Merry little Kristallnacht, Amerika!

But, seriously, I agree with fenriq and johnj that the sample size is really too small to give all that much creedence (other than where it covers the obvious: people that rely on TV news are more poorly informed and fear paralyzed than other segments of the population). However, it has served as a reminder that I need to send in my annual contribution to the ACLU, which I'd been putting off.

On preview: graventy, you must work with Colin Quinn. I think I've heard that same line of "reasoning" on Tough Crowd.
posted by Flem Snopes at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2004


History classes taught in public schools should focus less on dates / names, and more on the concepts and context that led up to and happened during historical events. Also, the required history courses for American schools often only go up to the beginning of the 20th century. Perhaps a little more modern history would do the general populace some good, as it seems older generations haven't done a very good job of keeping recent events in our collective memory... Oh yeah, and the media is to blame too.

I think those bits they do on Jay Leno where he asks the common man some basic questions about history/math/geography that nobody seems to be able to answer is quite telling.

Fuck it all; Implant all the towelheads with microchips so we know where the godless bastards are at all times.
posted by password at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2004



You are either a bad troll, or you have no concept of what America country stands for.


Someone needs to have their humor receptors adjusted.
posted by absalom at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2004


So, can we finally stop beating around the Bush and just admit that this war is against Muslims instead of terrorists?

StephenV. I'd happily give you a clue, but being an American, I'm down to my last one.
posted by davelog at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2004


You are either a bad troll, or you have no concept of what America country stands for.

Or he was being sarcastic. Sometimes it's hard to tell on the internets.

Back on topic, maybe Monty Python was more profound than we credit them for. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition...
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2004


We are too busy exporting freedom to other countries. It may be too late to learn the lesson that there is only so much freedom to go around and it has to come from somewhere (An argument soon to be proposed by the current administration.)

The poll shows that people are willing to have it come from the United States Constitution. The trifecta is about to be complete: PATRIOT ACT, limiting rights regardless of the citizenship and journalists are under attack or already hiding.

Perhaps the only thing left is to gather all intelligence under one department, like a secret police organization.
posted by fluffycreature at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2004


On my last attempt to enter the US I was stopped at the border. Unfortunately, two of my family members had prior records and we were denied entrance to the US (I wasn't that upset).

I thought we would be turned around and sent back to Canada, but I was wrong. We were pulled into US Immigration. Our passports were withheld while the two prior-offenders were mug-shotted, fingerprinted, and interrogated (without lawyers present). All in all, it took over 3 hours until we were finally allowed to return to Canada.

As bad as that all was, out of the 200+ people who were also detained at Immigration, about 90% were of Middle-Eastern dissent, and as poorly as we were being treated, it was nothing compared to some of the conversations I overheard between them and Immigration officials. The complete lack of respect, dignity and/or outright hatred that was displayed was ridiculous and completely unnecessary for pretty much every case that I overheard.

Needless to say, from now on I'm staying the fuck away from the Motherland.
posted by purephase at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2004


> Someone needs to have their humor receptors adjusted.

Fair enough. I didn't catch it because the original comment was so deadpan; my sensor is tuned to a higher level of hyperbole.
posted by StephenV at 8:21 AM on December 18, 2004


This makes all that talk about FEMA internment camps not so unbelievable now, disgustingly. And Michelle Malkin must be so proud. ugh!
posted by amberglow at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2004


fluffycreature,

Exactly! We've exported so much freedom that we've created a trade deficit.

We need to reimport some.

I think Canada has some freedom to spare. (but too bad about the tariffs)
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2004


StephenV,

So you really thought that someone was suggesting Arabs wear gold stars, because of their success in the past. To top it off, this comment wasn't hyperbolic enough for you to get it was sarcasm. Hmmmm....

Man this country is in trouble.
posted by xammerboy at 8:36 AM on December 18, 2004


Sturgeon's Law applies to Americans, too.
posted by rushmc at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2004


If people are this concerned, it might make sense to have Arabs and Muslims simply wear some type of pin or patch to make them identifible.

Once you've done that you might as well go to the next step of forcing them to all live in designated areas or "ghettos".
posted by clevershark at 8:47 AM on December 18, 2004


The IRA goes silent for a few years and everyone forgets about the danger of living next door to a pasty skinned catholic.
posted by Mick at 8:57 AM on December 18, 2004


I think from now on, I'll call it "America Country."

But I have to give Stephen the benefit of a doubt; his site seems to have enough bipartisan snark to allow him this.

In case anyone didn't catch it, yellow stars were a reference to The Sneetches, a classic Suess story about segregation and trend.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:59 AM on December 18, 2004


graventy, plenty of others have quit the Administration this term. Why not you?
posted by yerfatma at 9:05 AM on December 18, 2004


715 respondents is a perfectly good sample size for this kind of study given the size of percentages involved. The margin of error in this case would be about plus or minus 3%, which would mean that anywhere from 24-31% of people think Muslims should register their location. Doesn't really change things much.
posted by adrianhon at 9:07 AM on December 18, 2004


johnj, that was my first thought. And I still think that its a bit of a leap to take a sample size of under a thousand and project those results onto the entire nation.

I should make a macro in regards to this.

The required sample size has nothing to do with the size of the population. Criticizing a survey because the sample size appears to be small compared to the size of the population reveals a basic misunderstanding of statisticstics.

For some statistics, 7 people are sufficient. For others, 70,000 is unlikely to be sufficient. It all depends on the variance, which is not reported in this study.

In general however, how do you idenitfy a "Muslim"? Do you include the well-dressed professional African American man? What about the secularist from Turkey? If you use ethnicity, how do you work around the fact that less than 1/2 of Arab Americans are Muslim?

Mick: The IRA goes silent for a few years and everyone forgets about the danger of living next door to a pasty skinned catholic.

Well, the IRA isn't exactly silent and could come back swinging if the disarmament issue goes South.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:18 AM on December 18, 2004


In my experience as a lifelong American, most Americans rely on TV news -- or on the gossip of those who rely on TV news but who seldom watch the news themselves because "it's so depressing". (I'd bet the second group is as large as the first.) And yes, most of these folks would love to restrict Muslim's freedoms, "for safety's sake".

As for the "distinguishing mark" idea, I didn't think was meant as a joke, because it does fit right in with what I know of my fellow Americans. Generally speaking, the main difference between Americans and 1930s Germans, besides language and location, is a bit of propaganda. Tell 'em it "protects freedom" and they'll go for it. The problem is the lack of a Muslim Patch is no protection, because those Asians and North Africans from mostly Muslim lands usually do look different in complexion and features from your "standard white person". (Muslims from non-Arab Africa are almost as easy to spot.)

Oh and by the way: most Americans (not the self-selected "elite" that reads MetaFilter) won't grasp "leftist" points unless you belabor the obvious (like I do), but "rightist" ones they pick right up on. Start talking about "normal Americans" and you'll see what I mean. ("Really," they'll explain, "it's just common sense".)

Oh and by the way, graventy could work in an insurance office or a muffler shop and hear the same things. What else could "common sense" mean when applied to politics?
posted by davy at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2004


Polls like this largely explain why Canadians (in Ottawa, at least) dislike America on the whole. I can't tell you how often I've heard "American" used as an adjective in place of "arrogant" or "greedy" or "prejudiced". And that was even before 9/11. These are the polls the media in other countries throw around. I'd say this is very non-characteristic of America on the whole, but a lot of people probably disbelieve that, after that last election. American PR is having a rough few years.

I'm not making any judgements, I'm just telling you what I see everyday on the streets. You know, when I'm keepin' it real.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 9:24 AM on December 18, 2004


While researchers said they weren't necessarily surprised by the overall level of support for restrictions, they were startled by the correlation with religion and exposure to television news.

"We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding," Shanahan said.
Religion and TV news make people stupid. Film at 11.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:24 AM on December 18, 2004


An Eschaton commenter the other morning remarked that he felt he had awakened on the Planet of the Apes.

Indeed.
posted by rdone at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2004


Dougunderscorenelso: it is quite disturbing to me that you think the reference to stars is from fiction when the more direct reference is to the reality of the stars jews were forced to wear in the 40's by the nazi's.
posted by Osmanthus at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2004


Dougunderscorenelso: it is quite disturbing to me that you think the reference to stars is from fiction when the more direct reference is to the reality of the stars jews were forced to wear in the 40's by the nazi's.

Add to this the fact that the Sneeches' stars were not a designated marker, but a fashion trend that got out of hand and generated a backlash.

/Seuss pedant
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:39 AM on December 18, 2004


It is quite disturbing to me that I can no longer tell when MeFi'ers are kidding about being facetious.
posted by Flem Snopes at 9:47 AM on December 18, 2004


...it is quite disturbing to me that you think the reference to stars is from fiction...

there comes a point when it's impossible to tell who's being sincere anymore. I thought the sneetches reference was a kind of meta-joke, to sort of un-godwin the thread. It's not as if comparison to hitler hasn't been done before.

Also, I thought the sneetches thing was more like a racial prejudice? Some were born with stars on their bellies and some weren't, and this arbitrary difference became a form of hierarchy? But I don't remember well enough.

In any case, this is a disturbing poll, but that's why we live in a republic not a pure democracy. viva la constitution.
posted by mdn at 9:52 AM on December 18, 2004


I thought we all learned our lesson about polls.
posted by TetrisKid at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2004


Christians are so full of shit about being persecuted in this country. So full of shit. Oh my God, it is simply not funny anymore. Where is your Jesus now?
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2004


I'd say it's time for a proper filmization of 'It Can't Happen Here', but they already did that a couple of years before all of this 9-11 frou-frah.

Apparently, they tried to film it in the '30's but the project was canceled due to studio objections:
Lewis’s novel was supposed to be made into a film in 1936, but Will Hays who was in charge of censorship for the movie studios, used all his power and stopped the film from being made. Hays felt that a film of this novel would be seen as an attack on the Republican party. Although Lewis’s fictional dictator Windrip ran for President as a Democrat, any implied attack on Hitler’s Germany was seen as Democratic party propaganda in 1935, since Jews, Hitler’s enemies, mostly voted Democrat, and eighty percent of all movie studio executives at that time were Jews. Whatever dislike most Republicans might have for Hitler’s Nazi State, Republicans were seen as more opposed to anything that might lead to war with Germany than Democrats were.
Alas. All of these rehersals, yet everybody still seems to forget their lines...

But it won't ultimately matter much - after Asia and Europe realize that the US is a full-blown failure, they'll cash their Treasury bonds and plunge us directly into a fully-exploitable Dark Age.
posted by vhsiv at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2004


I understand the concerns with the sample size, but my personal experience with people around where I live leads me to believe that way more than 44% would at least not *oppose* such a measure (even if they don't actively support it).
posted by absalom at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2004


I think we should make the Christians easily identifiable, they're the ones that scare me.

Not that I mean to like, insult anyone here who might be Christian.

Well, I guess I kind of do.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:27 AM on December 18, 2004


I think we should make the Christians easily identifiable, they're the ones that scare me.

In Canada we mark the really scary ones with lipstick.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2004


At first I thought the sample size was somewhat small as well, until I recalled a recent discussion (i.e. flame war) on a local message board where my neighboring citizens ... approximately 125 of them involved in this case ... almost all felt that Muslims should have their rights curtailed, if not out-and-out thought that internment camps or kicking them out of the country were great ideas. This was just a random cross-section of Austinites who usually like talking about local art, music and culture ... a moderately educated and generally open-minded group consisting of very few people I would consider "fanatics" of any sort (until I read that thread, of course). So I think it is a pretty fair representation of what the country thinks.

My mother, a pretty normal 68 year old woman living in Central Texas and mostly rational about things, starts foaming at the mouth at the mere mention of Islam, Muslims, or Mohammad and wants the entire middle east to be nuked and all Muslims removed from the country. It's a common train of thought ... unfortunately.
posted by Orb at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2004


It's a common train of thought ... unfortunately.

So how do we fix it?
posted by SemiSophos at 11:19 AM on December 18, 2004


In any case, this is a disturbing poll, but that's why we live in a republic not a pure democracy. viva la constitution.

Which would normally be reassuring, but it seems to me that your leaders are every bit as short-sighted and nasty as the 30% of the public that want to restrict rights. Not a whole lot of visionaries of ye olde Constitutional-writing ilk.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM on December 18, 2004


So how do we fix it?

I don't think we can. People love to hate.

The best solution is probably to move to France.
posted by bshort at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2004


It strikes me that many "Mefites" might misunderstand "democracy": the word means simply "majority rule", not "principled adherence to 20th-century Enlightenment liberalism". That is, if most Germans were willing to let all the Jews be killed then Birkenau was a democratic institution. [See Goldhagen, 1996.]

Don't forget too that, here in the U.S., slavery and official segregation were ended not by the ballot but by the armed might of the Federal government. Sending in the 101st Airborne so a few black kids could attend a particular high school did not seem "democratic" to most 1957 Arkansans.
posted by davy at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2004


> > So how do we fix it?

> I don't think we can. People love to hate.

> The best solution is probably to move to France.

That country that just forbade schoolkids to wear religiously distinctive headgear? This one?
posted by davy at 11:37 AM on December 18, 2004


all this shock and horror at discrimination is getting tiresome. oh no, america is the land of the free, civil liberties, constitution blah blah blah. americans need to get over themselves. you're just like everybody else. no better, no worse.
posted by canned polar bear at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2004


actually, canned, lately we're much worse. That's why shit like this is bothering us. It's part of a larger pattern.
posted by amberglow at 11:45 AM on December 18, 2004


Although it's a bit late in the thread, and most people caught what I was saying, yes, my 'pins or badges' comment was being sarcastic, and pointing out how easy it is for people to slip into the same horrific us-vs-them patterns that defined Nazism.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2004


Alternatively, we could send Muslims to prison. Oh wait, Islam is already a favorite religion there.

I'm all for restricting immigration of Muslims. Look at what Islamic immigrants are doing to Europe. As for the ones that are here, we need to secure their children's access to Britney and other superior forms of western culture.
posted by paleocon at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2004


not really, in ww2 is was the japs, now it's muslims. it's pretty obvious that freedom is all good and fine while everything is rosey but once it gets slightly difficult. forget it.
posted by canned polar bear at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2004


These polls are meaningless.

There will be no restrictions until and unless there's another successful terrorist attack, and the restrictions, if any, are going to be dependent upon the profile of the attack ... which can't be predicted.

The one thing I am sure of is that the only people of consequence to oppose them will be Barbara Lee and a couple of her scroungy fellow travelers representing radical enclaves.
posted by MattD at 12:34 PM on December 18, 2004


the word means simply "majority rule", not "principled adherence to 20th-century Enlightenment liberalism"

As so many are quick to point out, this isn't a pure democracy. As for your fancy "majority," your homework assignment is to read The Federalist Papers, #51 and #10.
"The two great points of difference between a Democracy and a Republic are, first, the delegation of the Government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest: secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand to refine and the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good, than if pronounced by the people themselves convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive Republics are most favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2004


The best solution is probably to move to France.

Best joke in thread.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2004


On C-SPAN Thursday morning, one caller was irate about the fact that Islam is even "allowed in this country."

He supported his outrage with the comment, "I mean, my God isn't someone who just, .. rewards people for killing and beheadings.. My god is peaceful and loving. Islam's is barbaric."

Really, a huge section of this country has no respect for the very values on which it was founded. This shouldn't be surprising, since the exclusivity of most religions naturally pushes people to treat outsiders with skepticism, if not outright hatred. As for what we can do about it? I've always believed that a large amount of problems with cultural awareness and mutual respect could be solved by making student-exchange programs more widespread, and I mean by orders of magnitude. Fund programs to move a massive amount of students into and out of the country, place them with host families, and educate them at the same time. Treat education as a global responsibility, not a local burden. Yes, it would be very expensive, but I believe it's a pretty viable solution. Break down as many of the psychological borders as you can. Ask someone if they want to bomb a country where their son or daughter is studying. See how they respond to a child who comes home to share their experiences in what used to be such a foreign place, but which is now only a few degrees of seperation away. In my opinion, the improvement would be drastic.
posted by odinsdream at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2004


We've known for a long time that most people's little-L liberalism is pretty thin.

Don't forget that people's little-L libertarianism is pretty thin as well.
posted by Arch Stanton at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2004


These polls are meaningless only because they are nothing new, nothing changing. Humanity. Is. Awful.

Hitler had the right idea, he just wasn't ambitious enough. Kill everyone- no one deserves life, no one. 9/11 was a good thing, because it not only involved the death of people, but really put gas on the hateful inferno that was America's true self- and this is always a net positive. We already knew what the krrrlson's were like, the little Stalins that they were. But the reality is that however unthinkingly evil, however embracing of the politics and lifestyle of utter contempt and hatred they may be, there is not one soul on earth who is any better, who is any less hateful or destructive.

Everyone is evil, everyone is hateful, everyone LOVES only one thing: destroying something else. In every act to undertake, every word we say, all I see is the hatred of anything that is not our narcissistic selves. Muslims, japs, gays, dems, reps, it doesn't matter. All we want is to hate, it's what we're best at. There is no "good side" to people, everything is rotten to the core.

Mother nature realized we'd gone awry, and simply evolved our genes to be self-destructive. I'm just praying that we can speed it up. There is no afterlife to save us, I just want human life to end.

Because this, this poll, this and so much more, are what humanity is. And how sick do you have to be to want that to continue?
posted by hincandenza at 1:06 PM on December 18, 2004


hincandenza: Do you want a hug?
posted by Endymion at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2004


But it won't ultimately matter much - after Asia and Europe realize that the US is a full-blown failure, they'll cash their Treasury bonds and plunge us directly into a fully-exploitable Dark Age.

I suspect this was hyperbole, but I have seen similar thoughts expressed. I wonder: what makes you think things are going to be much better anywhere else if the US experiences an economic collapse? It's all hanging by a thread.

On preview: hincancdenza's brand of cynicism takes my own out to the woodshed and kicks its ass.
posted by Flem Snopes at 1:20 PM on December 18, 2004


Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people.

I just wanted to repeat that.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2004


There is no afterlife to save us, I just want human life to end.

Somebody didn't get a christmas card...

i have some left, you know
posted by odinsdream at 1:25 PM on December 18, 2004


Dear America,

The Bill Of Rights applies to everybody.

Sincerely, ilsa.
posted by ilsa at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2004


..." There is no afterlife to save us, I just want human life to end. "...
Well, hincandenza, why don't you lead by example.
posted by c13 at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2004


Except illegal combatants.

Best regards, Don Rumsfeld.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2004


Well, hincandenza, why don't you lead by example.

I so totally saw that one coming.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2004


Yeah, but it's still a valid comment. hincandenza, you're taking up oxygen that could be used by someone who actually wants to help improve things.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2004


Because this, this poll, this and so much more, are what humanity is. And how sick do you have to be to want that to continue?

Umm, the same poll shows 48% of people have retained some aspect of rationality in the face of faceless fear and DO NOT WANT to curtail the rights of ...probable terrorists.

I'm fine with this as long as we do the same to all our returning vets. Timothy McVeigh as terrorist stereotype, hullo?

Personally I think the solution is to develop a fully rational scientifically based (i.e. same for all observers) philosophy to replace and supplant the religions of the book, but I generally get lambasted as a kook for suggesting such a simple and obvious solution.
posted by wah at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2004


As a moderately liberal agnostic, I find all the Christianity-bashing / Islam-defending going on her to be OH-so-predictable and tedious, and well, stupid.

As far as I'm concerned, all religions are irrational. However, let's be realistic: The Christians can be pests, what with their demands for moments of silence in public schools, their postings of the ten commandments here and there, etc., but I'm not aware of Jerry Falwell or his ilk calling for any beheadings. Also, the last time I checked, Christians aren't stoning, lashing or beating women for alleged sexual "crimes" like extra-marital sex or being the vicitims of rape or incest. Also, as far as I know, the Christian penalty for apostasy is not death, unlike the OTHER religion (irrational belief system) I'm comparing it to.

I'm not a racist. But I AM a culturalist, and I am truly puzzled why "liberals" in western countries defend Islam, which is diametrically opposed to everything they stand for.

Every citizen of the United States should have the same rights - there shouldn't be any limiting of those rights based on anybody's religious beliefs. That doesn't mean that we cannot vigorously point out that by any objective standard, one of the religions is very bad, and the other is, well, just kind of annoying.
posted by JeffL at 2:44 PM on December 18, 2004


They tried that in the 18th century, wah, and all it led to was "science" and "enlightenment" and "modern democracy" and crap.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:46 PM on December 18, 2004


How funny would it be if it turned out that hincandenza was secretly Julie Andrews.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2004


after Asia and Europe realize that the US is a full-blown failure, they'll cash their Treasury bonds and plunge us directly into a fully-exploitable Dark Age

Well, maybe Asia would, but I don't think Europe's leaders are stupid enough to do that and consequently follow the U.S. and Canada into this Dark Age you speak of.

JeffL, you realize you're going to get torn apart for making that comment, right?
posted by oaf at 2:50 PM on December 18, 2004


A spoonful of sugar helps the misanthrope go down?
posted by Flem Snopes at 2:50 PM on December 18, 2004


I'm sorry, JeffL, but you're completely wrong. Islam, as Mohammed preached it, is a pacifist religion. If you actually read the Quran, you will discover that Muslims are forbidden from committing violence against anyone, even in self-defense. Submitting and letting your enemy strike you down is a one-way guaranteed ticket to Paradise. The problem is that some people have decided to reinterpret jihad, which is supposed to be an internal struggle, as an excuse for terror and power-grabbing. And guess what? Some people deliberately misinterpret the teachings of Jesus for the same purpose. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with either Islam or Christianity, but the people who abuse the religions in order to commit violence must be eradicated.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL, you're unaware of what the Puritans did to transgressors? And that Falwell, etc, said that 9/11 was our own fault for allowing gay people and feminists to exist? And that Swaggart just recently said he would kill gay men himself?

There's not as much difference as you think--both past and present. And not all Muslims, nor even a majority of Muslims are violent--they're people like you and me.
posted by amberglow at 2:53 PM on December 18, 2004


Muslims haven't staged a full-scale invasion and occupation of the US yet, so I'd say Americans have no business judging anyone.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:07 PM on December 18, 2004


Interesting point in that poll that 12% of people said the reason for the "War on Terror" was to bring peace and democracy to the Middle East.

Which will be accomplished by restricting civil rights in the USA, apparently.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:08 PM on December 18, 2004


Amberglow:

I'm not unaware that Christians did LOTS of bad things, but they mostly happened hundreds of years ago. Falwell's comment, while repugnant, is still just rhetoric - I don't believe he was calling for anyone's death. You do make a point about Swaggert. However, he has been totally discredited for years, and by no stretch could he be considered a "religious leader" - he is just a joke. Bottom line: those guys said mean things. They didn't order anybody killed, or send anybody to blow themselves up in a crowded marketplace.


Faint of Butt:

My problem with Islam is that there seems to be a much larger contingent of violent crazy people (i.e., suicide bombers, kidnappers, beheaders) there.

Also, what about the misogyny I mentioned? Is that defensible? We liberals don't like it when the (Christian) religious right tries to force abstinence-only sex education in the public schools; if that bugs us, can't we out-and-out condemn the way women are treated in Islam?
posted by JeffL at 3:19 PM on December 18, 2004


Thoreau's student mentioned : They tried that in the 18th century, wah, and all it led to was "science" and "enlightenment" and "modern democracy" and crap.

How did science lead to science again? Also, I'm not going as much for an enlightenment as an 'embiggenment'. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. But since it worked quite well last time...who's up for a repeat?

We're post-Popper now, so the science leading to science thing thing probably didn't happen like that, IMHO, but that's something of a recursive tangent, so we'll leave it at that.

JeffL has a good point. One thing I like to point out to conservatives in America that the only people more conservative than them on the planet live in the Middle East. Same with the only people that are more enthusiastic about the death penalty than your average Texan (and I say this as a Texan who brings down the average).
posted by wah at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL: "Evangelicals urged to vote and 'shape public policy'"
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2004


My problem with Islam is that there seems to be a much larger contingent of violent crazy people (i.e., suicide bombers, kidnappers, beheaders) there.

Your problem is with violent crazy people, not Islam. I'm troubled by violent crazy people as well. But, you know, I'm inclined to think that if the US were to be invaded by a foreign power and civilians bombed, the occurrence of people here who could be termed violent and crazy would probably rise dramatically. I'm not defending violent acts; I'm simply trying to make the point that politics and other outside forces beget more violence than the strict tenets of Islam.

Also, what about the misogyny I mentioned? Is that defensible?

No, of course not, but the Christian Bible also calls for the subjugation of women. Please be prepared to attack both if you wish to attack one.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:31 PM on December 18, 2004


Bottom line: those guys said mean things. They didn't order anybody killed, or send anybody to blow themselves up in a crowded marketplace.

Well, according to Falwell's own faith, he's committing as big a sin by hating in his heart, even if he never personally bashes someone over the head acting out his feelings.

As far as that goes, I'd say he IS a leader, as he has a number of people who listen to him and look to him to codify and champion certain values. This kind of "hate the sinner AND hate the sin" mentality being one of those values in question. That Falwell engages in this kind of hateful speech with a little laugh in his voice - and gets a chuckle from his audience when he says it - is not the same as actively urging murder, sure. But it definitely contributes to a subculture where hatred and violence are made more acceptable, as long as it's directed toward those people whom such leaders have condemned by their words.

And that's pretty evil behavior, imho.
posted by darkstar at 3:33 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL, I agree with you, but I would point to the problems you see in Islam having more to do with poverty, cultural backwardness, tribalness, etc. then religion.

Muslims in America (who this post is about) and in Western Europe, and generally speaking, wealthy Muslims, do not have these problems.

Show me a Muslim who falls into the category of "crazy" and I will show you an equally crazy non-Muslim from the same socioeconomic conidtions, probably in Africa or some other poor and/or oppressive place.

The reason liberals stick up for Islam is that any rational reading of the religion itself shows that, taken on its own terms, it can be a progressive and/or liberalizing force. However this often diametrically opposed to the cultural conditions of many Muslim countries. Ask intelligent, educated people from the backwards Muslim countries how they feel about the BS that goes on there and they'll tell you how much they hate it. But, to a man, they will dedend Islam, because Islam is not the problem.

So, I say, be a culturalist-- that's fine and that can be the moral position. But religion is not the root of the problem, ignorance and tribalism are.
posted by cell divide at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2004


Also, I would point out that when you are powerful ,and when your nation has power, you don't need to attack! Imagine Fallwell in a nation that was being invaded by a superior force and being subjugated. Do you think he would not advocate violence? Of course he would, he already does, but he has the Marines to carry out for him so he doesn't have to advocate suicide bombings. Generally speaking, terrorists are just people without armies.
posted by cell divide at 3:44 PM on December 18, 2004


Darkstar: Well, according to Falwell's own faith, he's committing as big a sin by hating in his heart, even if he never personally bashes someone over the head acting out his feelings.

You see, I don't care about Falwell's own faith. He may get in trouble with his God because of the hating in his heart, but that's not my concern. I would start to get concerned only when he DOES personally bash someone over the head (or directly order someone else to do so).

As far as that goes, I'd say he IS a leader, as he has a number of people who listen to him and look to him to codify and champion certain values.

Actually, my comment about not being a religious leader was about Swaggert, not Falwell. Falwell is definitely a leader with some political clout. Swaggert is just fodder for late night television comedians, when he is mentioned at all.
posted by JeffL at 3:53 PM on December 18, 2004


I'm not unaware that Christians did LOTS of bad things, but they mostly happened hundreds of years ago.

???
posted by mudpuppie at 4:03 PM on December 18, 2004


mudpuppie:

That was my (flippant, I suppose) reply to amberglow, who had asked if I was aware of what the Puritans had done to transgressors. If I had anything specific in mind, I suppose it was the Crusades.
posted by JeffL at 4:16 PM on December 18, 2004


Generally speaking, terrorists are just people without armies. - good point.

After all, the militia men from Bedford, Concord, Lexington and neighboring towns in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 who fired upon the retreating British "Regulars" (and put into motion our War for Independence) were deemed "terrorists" by the British Crown; "patriots" by fellowmen of their day and Americans today.
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2004


no one deserves life, no one

No one deserves life, but no one deserves death either. A conundrum, really.
posted by rushmc at 4:44 PM on December 18, 2004


Regarding what the Puritans (aka the Pilgrims) had done to transgressors the historical record is replete with severe punishment meted out to those who "sinned".

For example: "The initial laws governing sexual misconduct in Plymouth Colony were part of the 1636 codification of laws. Prior to this date, three cases of sexual misconduct were presented and ruled in the Court, two for fornication before marriage and one for 'attempting uncleanes'" (i.e. homosexual encounter between John Alexander and Thomas Roberts)...."Sodomy, rapes, and buggery" were declared 'capital offences lyable to death'"
posted by ericb at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL: Right, I see that I got them backwards, there. I meant to actually be referring to Swaggart, who made the comment to which I was referring. And as much of a joke as he may be to many, he is a leader with followers and influence. Though it is nowhere near Falwell's, truly.

Also, I didn't mean to suggest that you followed Swaggart or Falwell's tenets of faith. Sorry for the confusion. Just noting that, even considered solely within their own belief system, in expressing hatred, they would be committing sins that Christianity considers to be as spiritually damaging and "unholy" as actual murder.

But regardless of your belief system, the social impact of a religious leader espousing a view which makes light of violence against others is bad mojo.

Sure, I'd rather have Swaggart hurling wheezy invective at me from his pulpit than have some Wahabbist exhorting his followers to bomb my home. I do recognize those acts fall at different places on the spectrum of violence. But just because there are greater evils in the world doesn't make the lesser ones any more acceptable. That's all.
posted by darkstar at 5:09 PM on December 18, 2004


Faint of Butt: No, of course not, but the Christian Bible also calls for the subjugation of women. Please be prepared to attack both if you wish to attack one.

I'm not as concerned with what the Christian Bible and the Quran say. I'm concerned with what various governments (theocracies) and non-government movements have done over the last, oh let's say, 10 years.

Is there ANY Christian theocracy in the world that is analogous to (pre-invasion) Afghanistan? To Saudi Arabia?

Instead of "Islam", I should probably have written "Islam as promulgated by theocracies in the middle east and elsewhere" in my earlier posts.
posted by JeffL at 5:09 PM on December 18, 2004


I'm concerned with what various governments (theocracies) and non-government movements have done over the last, oh let's say, 10 years.

You'd be better served by being concerned with human nature, as revealed over the past 10,000 years. It's a much more reliable indicator.
posted by rushmc at 5:16 PM on December 18, 2004


darkstar: But regardless of your belief system, the social impact of a religious leader espousing a view which makes light of violence against others is bad mojo.

I agree.

darkstar: Sure, I'd rather have Swaggart hurling wheezy invective at me from his pulpit than have some Wahabbist exhorting his followers to bomb my home. I do recognize those acts fall at different places on the spectrum of violence. But just because there are greater evils in the world doesn't make the lesser ones any more acceptable. That's all.

I agree it doesn't make the lesser ones acceptable. It just bothers me that liberals/secularists (I'm one) are so quick to condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts, but usually NOT so quick, in a forum like this one anyway, to condemn what I think are much worse words and actions.
posted by JeffL at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2004


It just bothers me that liberals/secularists (I'm one) are so quick to condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts, but usually NOT so quick, in a forum like this one anyway, to condemn what I think are much worse words and actions.

Sorry, what are secular people guilty of now?
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:45 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL:I'm not as concerned with what the Christian Bible and the Quran say. I'm concerned with what various governments (theocracies) and non-government movements have done over the last, oh let's say, 10 years.

Forgive me for answering with questions, JeffL, but here I go:
If it is fair to punish muslims in USA for acts committed by people they share nothing with except a nominal belief, wouldn't it be fair to do the same to christians?
In other words, to think that 'because muslims over there still live in the dark ages, muslims over here live in the dark ages' is as logically fallacious as 'because christians then lived in the dark ages, christians now live in the dark ages'.

Is there ANY Christian theocracy in the world that is analogous to (pre-invasion) Afghanistan? To Saudi Arabia?

Not that I know of, but does that mean we must institute one?
posted by spazzm at 6:04 PM on December 18, 2004


one of the religions is very bad, and the other is, well, just kind of annoying.

Religions are not monolithic entities. Punishing the many because of the actions of the few is bad, etc. Do you really need this shit explained to you?

It just bothers me that liberals/secularists (I'm one) are so quick to condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts, but usually NOT so quick, in a forum like this one anyway, to condemn what I think are much worse words and actions.

Is it really necessary for me to stand up and say that I think stoning women to death for not wearing the correct clothing is bad? Do you need to have it explained to you by 'liberals' that they are not, in fact, in favor of religiously motivated murderers? That they don't hate christianity and aren't tools of Satan?

It's assumed, in the same way it's assumed that someone won't reach over and stab you in the neck with a dinner fork. I shouldn't have to walk around telling everyone how wrong extreme Islamic teachings are, or that I don't hate our troops, or whatever else, because reasonable people recognize that those behaviors are wrong. Straw man argument.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 6:10 PM on December 18, 2004


I agree it doesn't make the lesser ones acceptable. It just bothers me that liberals/secularists (I'm one) are so quick to condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts, but usually NOT so quick, in a forum like this one anyway, to condemn what I think are much worse words and actions.

So we need to make sure to condemn Islam every time we condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts? Just to spread it around a little? Maybe every time I mention Islam [1] I should put a little footnote:

[1] But wait! I deplore torture, misogyny, and cruel and unusual punishment by Islamic people also.

I think you're picking a fight here that doesn't need to be fought. If this post had been about some Islamic theocratic atrocity, and all MetaFilter had rallied together in defense of said atrocity, then you would have a point. That's not what happened, though.

Your outlook, too, has the bizarre effect of congratulating fundamentalist Christians, who have a lot to apologize for [2], as though they deserve some kind of reward for only being bigoted and ignorant.

[2] Of course, teaching creationism in schools is bad--but at least it's not as bad as stoning rape victims! Way to go guys!

I just don't get it. What are you hoping to achieve? These conversations have been going on for a long time; everyone is well past square one.
posted by josh at 6:12 PM on December 18, 2004


As a minor (but topical) aside, the 10 Nov 2002 entry at the bottom of this page detailing Swaggart's career (NSFW due to language) makes the whole Swaggart-Muslim comparison a little bit more pointed.
posted by darkstar at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2004


Which would normally be reassuring, but it seems to me that your leaders are every bit as short-sighted and nasty as the 30% of the public that want to restrict rights. Not a whole lot of visionaries of ye olde Constitutional-writing ilk.

once again, that's why the country is a republic. That means it's founded on principles, and the presence of a few idiots in charge cannot radically alter the rights of the citizens easily. It's not impossible, but there really are a lot of checks and balances to make it much more difficult for such changes to be implemented. I'm not saying that means nothing bad will ever happen, but an opinion poll is not evidence that anything bad is happening.

When a bill gets proposed to mark all muslims, then we can have the fight. When a bunch of fearful citizens can't see beyond their own immediate interests to the justice of a society at large, then we just have human nature, sad as that sometimes seems. Thankfully human nature has a more mindful side, that in moments of less hysteria lead to foundations and constitutions meant to help steer us through the sticky bits, from a more rational perspective.

Re: defending islam, I kind of agree this is a bit of a mess. I don't want to defend fundamentalism of any stripe, but I do want to defend human rights of everyone, no matter what religion they practice. When religions clash with human rights, I want to defend the human rights, which means I do not consider the current practices of many middle eastern fundamentalists acceptable at all. That does not mean that practices which discriminate against american or european muslims are acceptable. You have to keep your eye on the principles.
posted by mdn at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2004


Someone should at least tag 'em with a GPS tracker.
posted by wuchoogundonow at 6:36 PM on December 18, 2004


whuchoogundonow: No good. Bush is planning to be able to cut out GPS system in case of national emergency. So if the thus-tagged Muslims started running amok, and we had to go to defcon paisley, or whatever, all those MohammedanTrak 3000™ units in the hands of the DHS fellows would be rendered ineffectual.

I mean, where is Batman when you need him?
posted by darkstar at 6:42 PM on December 18, 2004


When a bill gets proposed to mark all muslims, then we can have the fight.

By that time, it would probably be too late.

Our elected reps didn't even bother to read the PATRIOT Act. Why would they read the fine print on something like this? 51% of the voters don't like nuance.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:43 PM on December 18, 2004


Everybody go read cell divide's comment again.
posted by muckster at 8:22 PM on December 18, 2004


JeffL - I think you're forgetting that whole Spanish Inquisition thing.
posted by bshort at 8:28 PM on December 18, 2004


Orin Kerr, of Volokh.com:
What Do 44% of Americans Believe?
Newspapers and websites around the world are reporting what purport to be the results of a Cornell University poll on attitudes of Americans towards Muslims in the United States. The newspapers and websites are reporting that 44% of Americans say that they want to curtail the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Here is the summary from the Associated Press:
  Nearly half of all Americans surveyed said they think the US government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.
  . . .
  The survey indicated that 44 percent of those surveyed said they favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Forty-eight percent said liberties should not be restricted.
  These are extremely disturbing figures that will be accepted by hundreds of millions or even billions of people around the world. But there is something important that the press reports overlook: the 44% of people polled did not actually say that they wanted to curtail the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Rather, 44% of peple reported views that the Cornell University pollsters themselves categorize as being support for the curtailment of the civil liberties of Muslim Americans.

  I found the report on the poll here. It turns out that the pollsters asked people to agree or disagree with four statements:
1) Muslim civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated by undercover law enforcement agents to keep watch on their activities and fundraising.
2) U.S. government agencies should profile citizens as potential threats based on being Muslim or having Middle Eastern heritage.
3) Mosques should be closely monitored and surveilled by U.S. law enforcement agencies.
4) All Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government.
For each of these statements, between 20 and 30 percent of the subjects agreed; most disagreed. Overall, the study reports, 29% of the subjects agreed with 2 or more of these statements, and 15% agreed with one of them. (Some of these numbers don't quite add up, I think, but see page 6 of the report for the figures.)

  I don't want to be nitpicky, but am I right in thinking that a certain amount of spin is involved in how this poll is being reported? The pollsters made a judgment call that if you agree with any one of these statements, you are in favor of curtailing the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Thus, the pollsters are claiming, and advocacy groups such as CAIR are trumpeting, that 44% of Americans are in favor of curtailing the civil liberties of Muslims.

  But is that really what the poll shows? Most of the questions are quite vague, and use lots of buzzwords. Take the statement: "Muslim civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated by undercover law enforcement agents to keep watch on their activities and fundraising." There have been many press reports of Muslim civil and volunteer organizations being used as fronts for terrorist financing schemes. If you believe these reports are probably true, or just may be true, you might reasonably want the FBI to investigate the organizations. You would then answer that you agree with the statement. Does that really mean you want to curtail the civil liberties of Muslims?

  Of course, this is not to say that the poll results are heartening. In particular, it is very disturbing that 29% of Americans would agree that "All Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government." I can imagine less damning explanations for this figure, but it is on the whole quite troubling. Nonetheless, the press reports around the world suggesting that 44% of Americans want to curtail civil liberties of Muslim Americans would appear to be at least misleading.

  
  
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:47 PM on December 18, 2004


Muslims in America (who this post is about) and in Western Europe, and generally speaking, wealthy Muslims, do not have these problems.

Show me a Muslim who falls into the category of "crazy" ...


*cough*binladen*cough*

...this guy has a western education, and a lot of financial backing through very powerful people. I agree with most of the rest of your post, but this one crucial mis-step throws the whole thing off.
posted by odinsdream at 1:12 AM on December 19, 2004


I find it hilarious JeffL, that you call yourself a "liberal". Take it from me pal, you're not. You're a bigot who is symptomatic of a wider problem in American society at the moment.
posted by salmacis at 2:26 AM on December 19, 2004


I don't want to be nitpicky, but am I right in thinking that a certain amount of spin is involved in how this poll is being reported?

No. With the arguable exception of #1, which in itself is still broad and over-reactive, every single one of those four ideas evokes racist, illogical demand to single out Muslims. 15% said curtail at least one civil right. 29% said curtail two or more. That's 44% of respondents who want to curtail the civil liberties of Muslims.

What what the title of that post, "We're not AS racist as you think?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:40 AM on December 19, 2004


Sorry Steve, I'm not getting it. However you paint the above it's wrong. Try this -

1) Christian civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated by undercover law enforcement agents to keep watch on their activities and fundraising.
2) U.S. government agencies should profile citizens as potential threats based on being Christian or having Caucasian heritage.
3) Churches should be closely monitored and surveilled by U.S. law enforcement agencies.
4) All Christian Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government.


See that just looks silly. How could changing the religion/race make a difference?
posted by longbaugh at 8:39 AM on December 19, 2004


Josh: So we need to make sure to condemn Islam every time we condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts? Just to spread it around a little? Maybe every time I mention Islam [1] I should put a little footnote:

[1] But wait! I deplore torture, misogyny, and cruel and unusual punishment by Islamic people also.


Well, there have been many, many posts here in the last few years about the dangers to civil rights posed by the Bush administration. Lots of posts about the attempts of the federal and state governments to impose a fundamentalist Christian belief system. There has been relatively little discussion about the dangers of fudamentalism Islam. This was the last thread I can remember, and many of the comments there were of the "but fundamentalist Christians are bad too" variety.

salmacis: I find it hilarious JeffL, that you call yourself a "liberal". Take it from me pal, you're not. You're a bigot who is symptomatic of a wider problem in American society at the moment.

Ah, playing the "bigot" card. At least you didn't call me a racist. From my orginal post:

Every citizen of the United States should have the same rights - there shouldn't be any limiting of those rights based on anybody's religious beliefs

My question to you is this: Can't I be a liberal, and still be allowed criticize fundamentalist religion? After all, it seems to me that fundamentalists, whether Christian or Muslim, are often the real enemies of liberalism.
posted by JeffL at 9:05 AM on December 19, 2004


It was interesting to see the actual poll questions, and I'm grateful to Steve for that. To my chagrin, I find that I would have been included in that 44%, since I actually agree with question #1. However, I hope I can mitigate this by stating that I agree with question #1 on longbaugh's list as well. I believe that all formal religious organizations demand close scrutiny, particularly by the IRS.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:24 AM on December 19, 2004


Our elected reps didn't even bother to read the PATRIOT Act. Why would they read the fine print on something like this? 51% of the voters don't like nuance.
posted by AlexReynolds

Well, fact more like it, they didn't have time. It was re-written and published in the middle of the night, in a fiat of Republican leadership, that wanted to close the debate.
posted by vhsiv at 9:29 AM on December 19, 2004


JeffL: I think the problem is that Islamic terrorists are being treated as typical of muslim practice, with the result being proposals that Muslims should be treated as terrorists. In your early posts, you didn't bother making a distinction between Muslim and terrorist.

A problem with this slippery slope is that this kind of profiling ensures false accusations. Just on bayesian statistics, whenever you are looking for a needle in a haystack, you will find dozens of false leads for every true one. Each false lead means wasted time by law enforcement, and a lot of personal damage due to false accusations.

Steve at Linwood's suggestion that some of the questions are phrased badly is a good point. But even so, they are easy to counter. If there is intelligence linking an organization to terrorism, then by all means, start keeping a very close watch on in. But, defining all Islamic orgs or mosques as suspects by default seems like a waste of time.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:33 AM on December 19, 2004


By that time, it would probably be too late.

Our elected reps didn't even bother to read the PATRIOT Act. Why would they read the fine print on something like this? 51% of the voters don't like nuance.


well, that's where the constitution comes in. If a law is passed which can be shown to be unconstitutional, it will be challenged on those grounds. It's never 'too late' - even a constitutional amendment can be overturned later (see prohibition). I'm glad people are overreacting instead of underreacting, but I don't think there's really cause for hysteria at this point.

Re: JeffL's argument, I agree that we give too much of a free pass to the enemy of our enemy, as it were.

In your early posts, you didn't bother making a distinction between Muslim and terrorist.

most folks around here don't make much of a distinction between falwell and 89% of america (or whatever the christian percentage is these days). Current islamic fundamentalism is worse than current christian fundamentalism, yet we compare the christian fundies to hitler and shrug off accusations against the islamic fundies as bigotry. It is worth maintaining perspective. They're both bad. The christian fundies have a greater immediate influence on our gov't, but the islamic fundies do have influence on a global scale. I think it's only because the christian fundies have declared themselves against the islamic fundies that a lot of lefty secularists end up sort of defending or at least never attacking them.
posted by mdn at 10:25 AM on December 19, 2004


I wish I knew what a person could do about this. how do you convince joe blow red state that everyone in the world should be as free as possible?
posted by mcsweetie at 11:19 AM on December 19, 2004


... Lots of posts about the attempts of the federal and state governments to impose a fundamentalist Christian belief system. There has been relatively little discussion about the dangers of fudamentalism Islam. This was the last thread I can remember, and many of the comments there were of the "but fundamentalist Christians are bad too" variety.
Jeff, many of us have more to fear, and much more to lose, from our own homegrown extremists. That's why it comes up more.

And here's a good place to mention Timothy McVeigh and whoever did the anthrax stuff.
posted by amberglow at 11:28 AM on December 19, 2004


Josh: So we need to make sure to condemn Islam every time we condemn the Falwells and Swaggerts? Just to spread it around a little? Maybe every time I mention Islam [1] I should put a little footnote:

[1] But wait! I deplore torture, misogyny, and cruel and unusual punishment by Islamic people also.

Well, there have been many, many posts here in the last few years about the dangers to civil rights posed by the Bush administration. Lots of posts about the attempts of the federal and state governments to impose a fundamentalist Christian belief system. There has been relatively little discussion about the dangers of fudamentalism Islam. This was the last thread I can remember, and many of the comments there were of the "but fundamentalist Christians are bad too" variety.


Firstly, you seem to miss the point that was made, that it isn't necessary to condemn everything at once – the majority of stuff is just common sense. I.e., I don't need to expicitly say that I'm against beheadings, because that should be obvious.

In order to function properly with civil discourse, we choose what would be most effective to discuss given a particular context. That's why people who live in America tend to discuss the current administration more than Islam, because it makes more sense to discuss what's most important. You can harbor any fears you want, but the honest truth is, "Islam" (as you see it) presents no practical threat to America. America is not going to be overrun by anything having to do with "Islam" – it just isn't going to happen. Really. Say it out loud, because that's important. It isn't going to happen.

Secondly, insanity knows no religion. "Fundamentalists" are not part of one religion or the other. They're insane people who want to pin a religion on their shoulder, they in no way represent the religion. If I wasn't clear enough, this goes for "Christians" in this country, too. People that call for the execution of gays are not Christians, and should not be called such. We already have names for these people - like "psychopath" or "sociopath" or just plain ol' "insane."

So, to say "well you're only talking about christian fundamentalists, not islamic fundamentalists" doesn't really mean much. We're talking about people who are a danger to society based on their hatred for civil rights, freedom, individuality, etc., and I for one do not limit this to so-called "Christians."
posted by odinsdream at 12:14 PM on December 19, 2004


On preview: hincancdenza's brand of cynicism takes my own out to the woodshed and kicks its ass.

on preview, I got over hincandenza's brand of cynicism in 11th grade, when I stopped listening to dashboard confessional.
posted by scrim at 1:02 PM on December 19, 2004


The home of the brave...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:11 PM on December 19, 2004


By the way, anyone who says "Islam is a religion of peace" needs to (re-) read the Quran. The same for Judaism and Xianity of the Bible. The scriptures of "Abrahamic" religions are bloody and tyrannical.

Some folks, JeffL apparently not included, need to learn the difference between "tolerance" and "bending over backward to suck up somebody's bullshit".
posted by davy at 8:30 PM on December 19, 2004


Yes, yes, all of the Abrahamic scriptures are full of violence. So what? Everyone who's bothered to read them is also aware that they have about as little to do with the modern incarnations of any of those religions as the Epic of Gligamesh does, no matter what the religions themselves may claim. Or have you seen anyone stoned to death for eating shellfish lately? Religions, like anything else, need to be judged for what they currently are, not what they pretend to be or were thousands of years ago.

Which, among other things, makes me think that those in this thread who seem to be claiming that Christianity, unlike Islam, has somehow spent a few centuries terrorism-free are completely insane. Have you not been paying attention? Some recent samples:

"Early in the Bosnian war, the Serb religious nationalists captured the predominantely Muslim town of Foca . . . state-run prison and the Partizan Sports Hall were transformed into rape camps where Muslim women and girls were held and raped for days, sometimes weeks."

"Eric Robert Rudolph . . . is a suspect in the July 27, 1996 Centennial Olympic Park . . . is also charged with having bombed an abortion clinic in the Altanta suburb of Sandy Springs . . . is also charged with bombing an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama . . . and setting a nail laden device at the Otherside Lounge (a gay and lesbian night club) in Atlanta . . . Rudolph is said to be a follower of the Christian Identity sect of Christianity."

"Beirut, 1975 . . . in the gilded Corniche area on the Mediterranean, right-wing Christian Phalangist forces occupied the Holiday Inn and other hotels and began firing from the luxury bedrooms . . ."

"In August 1993, Croat warlord Mate Boban's troops . . . rounded up the Muslim residents [of Pocitelj] and marched them off to concentration camps."

"The Continuity IRA - along with the 'Real IRA' - remains opposed to the peace process and the Belfast Agreement which they claim cements partition . . . The group has also been linked to the August 1998 Omagh bombing, which claimed 29 lives . . ."

This was with a simple Google search. I have no problem with Christianity (nor with Islam for that matter), but "hundreds of years ago?" Come on! There is EVERY justification for equating the extremist violence at the fringe ends of BOTH religions (and many others), ranging in both cases from individual nutcases to state-sponsored genocides.
posted by kyrademon at 1:17 AM on December 20, 2004


This is why I think I prefer no religion at all. I'm certainly not saying secularists don't commit crimes but at least it removes one more justification for the removal of others' rights. In the grand scheme of things it's a baby step but at least it's moving in the right direction.

I have to agree in principle with JeffL as well - as a rule MeFi and liberals in general will defend those in the middle east with the standardised "Not every Muslim is a terrorist" but will happily chew on Christians at the drop of the hat (I have been guilty of this myself).

I would prefer that we just make it clear than any fundamentalism is wrongheaded. I live and work in a predominantly Muslim area and many of my friends and colleagues are true in their Islamic faith. They dislike the misreading of Mohammed as much as anyone else with good moral sense.
posted by longbaugh at 2:00 AM on December 20, 2004


My question to you is this: Can't I be a liberal, and still be allowed criticize fundamentalist religion? After all, it seems to me that fundamentalists, whether Christian or Muslim, are often the real enemies of liberalism.

Nice attempt to redefine your statement. Originally you did not criticise the fundamentalist wing of Islam, you criticised Islam itself.
posted by salmacis at 3:49 AM on December 20, 2004


there have been many, many posts here in the last few years about the dangers to civil rights posed by the Bush administration. Lots of posts about the attempts of the federal and state governments to impose a fundamentalist Christian belief system. There has been relatively little discussion about the dangers of fudamentalism Islam.

Clearly, the one is perceived as a far greater and more direct threat than the other. You may disagree, but it's not biased in the way that you are trying to claim.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2004


Osmanthus: Goodness, is my face red.
I briefly entirely forgot about those. I blame it on Christmas joy and temporary Holocaust ignorance.

You have to admit, thinking about the Sneetches seems to make it all better.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2004


And, Faint: Yeah, I kinda just thought it was a poor reference.

Hmm. This might also explain my "Hears a Hoo" theory on the Son of Sam murders.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2004


"If a law is passed which can be shown to be unconstitutional, it will be challenged on those grounds."

Um, didn't I read somewhere about how Republicans were working to have Congress sharply curtail or eliminate the Supreme Court's ability to strike down laws on grounds of Constitutionality?
posted by zoogleplex at 1:37 PM on December 20, 2004


When you get right down to it, what the hell is the difference between Islam and Christianity? The monotheistic and dualistic faiths of the past several hundred years, from Christianity to Islam to Zoroastrianism to Manichaeism to Judaism, have all had a fair bit in common. (For one, they all pillaged each other for theological cannon fodder.) Why bother talking about Christianity and Islam as if they are different? We're talking about religious people, period.

Religious people in Saudi Arabia versus religious people in Texas, not Muslims versus Baptists. It's all about religion in general, not the specific theological qualities of any particular faith. Jesus probably said all sorts of awesome things, but that didn't stop Christians from doing all sorts of shit.

It's all about politics, people. Religion is a tool. That Iran is an Islamic theocracy is utterly meaningless. That Iran is a theocracy, well, is important.

As was mentioned earlier in the thread, we'd probably have a good many "Christian" suicide bombers in the United States if anybody was ever able to do a proper invasion and occupation.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 6:54 PM on December 20, 2004


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