As the fight against ISIS/ISIL continues, and so do our campaigns to fight terrorism around the world, we are bound to be reminded that we are not in a war against Islam. But why is it that when I turn on the news, listen to people discuss Islam or look at images of Muslims in popular culture, it damn sure feels like we are.
It feels good for many people to look at Islam without looking at the bigger picture of geopolitics and foreign policy, but doing so allows us to repeat the same mistakes, while focusing intently on only part of the problem.
What Bill Maher, Sam Harris and many others like them fail to realize is that religion as it is practiced is a product of a wide array of factors, the official texts being only one of them. People of any faith are more shaped by the norms of their cultural context, interpreting their religious texts to comport with those norms rather than the other way around.
While Maher's points were vastly generalized and his analysis incomplete, there was still some validity to them. In modern America, we are so wed to the ideas of fairness and sensitivity that we can sometimes become blind to the obvious.
There are indeed a myriad of unique problems within the Muslim world, which is in a deep crisis. Yet, there are also countless Muslim leaders, intellectuals, clerics, philanthropists, and others, facing these problems, and trying to stand-up to illiberal phenomena in their communities and societies.
Liberals by and large tolerate if not applaud Bill Maher's broadsides at the institution of religion itself, but parsing out which is better than the other destroys his credibility on what was considered to be a well-rounded condemnation on the concept itself.
Bill Maher's been busy telling the world about the poor treatment of women by Muslims, bringing up female genital mutilation or FGM as evidence. And Reza Aslan did an admirable job correcting his many misconceptions.
I am a big fan of Nicholas Kristof so I was disappointed by his argument with Sam Harris and Bill Maher and his defense of his position in his New York Times column today. Kristof thinks he's defending the moderate; in fact, he's empowering the fanatic.
Up here in the clouds, on a plane from Denver (well, Fort Collins) to New York, there is no change in political atmosphere as of yet, although I did p...
For all of the great work Bill Maher does by adding an unapologetically liberal voice to sensitive topics, his recent heated debate with actor Ben Affleck and author Sam Harris has put Bill at odds with many liberals. The biggest problem with Bill's stance is that he seems content to shout into the wind.
I detest religious extremism, but what I detest equally is funding this plague and pretending the billions in weapons we give to Islamic fundamentalists isn't the primary reason that ISIS and other terrorist groups exist.
On October 3rd, Ben Affleck finally said what a lot of us have been hoping someone would say loud and angry enough to make Maher listen.
I often figure those who know me from PTA or the bus stop or the grocery store would naturally assume I would condemn criminals and bad guys and extremists of every sort, but apparently, since I'm Muslim, the condemnation has to be signed, sealed and delivered to make it stick.
To Mr. Maher and Mr. Harris directly: please walk back your statements. I'm not denying that the Muslim world is filled with hate, homophobia, intolerance and more violence than the western world. I just don't want everyone thinking all atheists are like you guys.
Islam needs reformers, not moderates. Yes, it's wrong and unfair for anyone to judge a religion by the actions of its followers, be they progressive Muslims or al Qaeda. But it is appropriate and intellectually honest to judge it by the contents of its canonical texts.
Obscene amounts of corporate spending fuel races for Congressmen who represent the interests of the corporations, not the people who elected them.