A Philosopher's Blog

Muslims, Bigotry & History

Posted in Religion by Michael LaBossiere on September 28, 2015

English: John F. Kennedy, former President of ...

In the September of 2015 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson took some heat for his remarks regarding Muslims. His fellow candidate, Donald Trump, has also faced some criticism for his persistence in feeding the suspicions that President Obama is a secret Muslim. Some of the fine folks at Fox and other conservative pundits have an established history of what some critics regard as anti-Muslim bigotry.

As might be suspected, those accused of such bigotry respond with claims that they are not bigots—they are merely telling the truth about Islam. Ben Carson echoed a common anti-Muslim claim when he asserted that a Muslim should not be President because “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.” There are also the stock claims that nearly all Muslims wish to impose Sharia law on America, that Islam (unlike any other faith) cannot become a part of American society, and that taqiyya allows Muslims a license to lie to achieve their (nefarious) goals. The assertion about taqiyya is especially useful—any attempt by Muslims to refute these accusations can be dismissed as falling under taqiyya.

It is not always clear if the bigotry expressed against Muslims is “honest” bigotry (that is, the person really believes what he says) or if it is an attempt at political manipulation. While “honest” bigotry is bad enough, feeding the fires of hatred for political gain is perhaps even worse. This sort of bigotry in politics is, obviously, nothing new. In fact, there is a historical cycle of bigotry.

Though I am not a Mormon, in 2011 I wrote a defense of Mitt Romney and Mormonism against accusations that Mormonism is a cult. I have also written in defense of the claim that Mormonism is a form of Christianity. While the religious bigotry against Romney was not very broad in scope, it was present and is similar to the bigotry in play against Muslims today.

Perhaps the best known previous example of bigotry against a religion in America is the anti-Catholicism that was rampant before Kennedy became President. Interestingly, the accusations against American Catholics are mirrored in some of the current accusations against American Muslims—that a Catholic politician would be controlled by an outside religious power, that a Catholic politician would impose his religious rules on America and so on. As is now evident, these accusations proved baseless and now Catholics are accepted as “real” Americans, fit for holding public office. In fact, a significant percentage of Congress is Catholic. Given that the accusations against Catholicism turned out to be untrue, it seems reasonable to consider that the same accusations against Islam are also untrue.

The bigotry against Muslims has also been compared to the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In an exchange with a questioner who asked “when can we get rid of them?” (“them” being Muslims), Trump responded that he will “looking at that and plenty of other things.” In the case of Japanese Americans, the fear was that they would serve as spies  and saboteurs for Japan, despite being American citizens. The reality was, of course, that Japanese Americans served America just as loyally as German Americans and Italian Americans. The bigotry against Muslims seems to be rather similar to the same bigotry that led to “getting rid of” Japanese Americans. I would hope that what we learned as a country from the injustice against the Japanese Americans would make any decent American ashamed of talk of getting rid of American citizens.

While it is possible that Islam is the one religion that cannot become part of American society, history shows that claims that seem to be bigotry generally turn out to be just that. As such, it seems rather reasonable to regard the accusations against American Muslims as bigotry. This is not to make the absurd claim that every single American Muslim is an ideal, law abiding citizen—just a refutation of unthinking bigotry.

 

My Amazon Author Page

My Paizo Page

My DriveThru RPG Page

Follow Me on Twitter

37 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. T. J. Babson said, on September 28, 2015 at 8:57 am

    From Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations:

    66. Consider for example the proceedings that we call “games”. I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all? — Don’t say: “There must be something common, or they would not be called ‘games’ “-but look and see whether there is anything common to all. — For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that. To repeat: don’t think, but look! —

    Mike, you have made a fundamental error by assuming that because Catholicism and Islam are both called religions, they are like cases and should be treated similarly.

    Overall, your post reads like a sophomore essay cribbed from DNC talking points. Grade: C-

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      I do not assume that Catholicism and Islam are the same. Rather, the analogy is that Catholicism was treated as an alien faith posing a dire threat to America. Kennedy had to fight that bigotry. Now, Muslims face an analogous bigotry.

      Now, you could argue the the theological differences break the analogy.

      I’ll take a C-, since that is still passing.

      • nailheadtom said, on September 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm

        Prejudice against Catholics in America is a continuation of the same situation in the United Kingdom dating back to the 16th century. The Puritans and less fanatical Protestants very reason for being is opposition to the Catholic church. The English Civil War was fought between Protestants and Catholics and with the Restoration the Puritans moved their operation to the New World, killed off the Indians, and set up their city on a hill. The American Revolution was just another phase of the English Civil War and, in fact, the US War Between the States was a further phase, with the New England Puritans leading the charge against the Scots-Irish South.

        There is no similar analogy to the situation with Muslim believers currently in the US. Americans are well aware of the situation when Muslims are in control in Dar es Salaam. They know the attitudes of the umma towards alcohol, pornography, abortion, female rights, female genital mutilation, slavery, polygamy and a host of other cultural and societal characteristics that are part and parcel of Islam. While most people couldn’t care less what Muslims do in their own homelands, they don’t wish to live next to them. This is hardly bigotry, which is something of which Muslims themselves are actually guilty, as anyone that’s spent any time in the Middle East can attest.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:17 am

          Tom

          ……………………………………………………
          “While most people couldn’t care less what Muslims do in their own homelands, they don’t wish to live next to them. ”

          ……………………………………………………

          Exactly… How would those that think that others should have no problem living next door to moslems(those making such pronouncements usually live in nice surroundings) go living next door to say a noisy family that likes late parties or a Hells Angels base or a religious group that annoyingly likes to sing crappy songs at the top of their voices on a regular basis?

          …………………………………………………….
          “This is hardly bigotry, which is something of which Muslims themselves are actually guilty, as anyone that’s spent any time in the Middle East can attest.”
          …………………………………………………….

          You should know that you can’t say that, not that it’s incorrect, just that you can’t say it……only white people can be bigots. Only a white person can be racist, bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, etc. ad nauseum….for all others it’s just called ‘cultural diversity’…got that?lol

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on September 28, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Carson should be dismissed as unAmerican and unfit for office. He’s a nativist. The GOP is morphing into the Know-Nothing Party. The issue of religious tests for federal office was settled over 200 years ago…

    “The first challenge loomed with the meeting of the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in the spring of 1787. At that time, nearly all state constitutions required office-holders to swear to their belief in either the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testaments or the truth of Protestant Christianity, and one-third of the states still levied taxes to support Christian churches. Yet the delegates at Philadelphia wished to avoid protracted controversy over religious matters—which, in any case, most believed should be left to the states—and hoped to reach consensus on the Constitution as quickly as possible. So the Convention spent little time debating the proposed Constitution’s two brief provisions regarding religion, one (in deference to the Quakers) allowing those assuming federal posts to “affirm” rather than to swear an oath of office, the other barring religious tests for those officeholders. More surprisingly, none of the delegates objected that the proposed Constitution did not refer to God. That omission marked a departure from the founding documents of 1776: the Declaration of Independence invokes the “Creator” in setting forth the basis of human rights and the Articles of Confederation alludes to the “Great Governor of the World.”

    “As the members of the Constitutional Convention expected, the matter of religion proved more contentious in the ratification debates, which followed. Some Anti-Federalist critics of the proposed Constitution warned that abolishing religious tests would allow Jews, Catholics, and Quakers—even “pagans, deists, and Mahometans [Muslims]”—to hold federal office, perhaps even to dominate the new national government…”

    Read more: The Separation of Church and State from the American Revolution to the Early Republic – http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/eighteen/ekeyinfo/sepchust.htm

    • TJB said, on September 28, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” Carson said.

      How do you go from this statement to a religious test, which is a law?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 28, 2015 at 5:14 pm

        Carson seems to back the idea of a religious test, at least he regards being a Muslim as failing the test. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/carson-backs-religious-test-presidency-despite-constitution

        But, you could point out that he does not explicitly say there should be a religious test. He just says that Islam is not compatible, etc.

        • TJB said, on September 28, 2015 at 9:28 pm

          He was explaining why he would not advocate putting a Muslim in charge of the nation.

          Mike, I’m sure there are a lot of people that you would not advocate putting in charge of the nation. For example, I would assume that you would not advocate that Rick Scott be put in charge of the nation.

          Remember “I am not a witch” Christine O’Donnell? If you vote against someone for believing in witchcraft does that make you a bigot?

          • TJB said, on September 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm

            Mike, how do you feel about the Wiccan religion? Would you like someone who believed in witchcraft in charge of our nuclear arsenal?

            • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:26 am

              As far as I know the Wiccan religion is very peaceful, no? That sounds like exactly the kind of person I would want in charge of a nuclear arsenal. Someone who is not going to use it.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 29, 2015 at 8:49 am

              TJ

              How would you feel about a Scientologist as Prez?? Or is that too much of a stretch?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:22 pm

              I think we can all agree to no Scientologists.

            • TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 2:06 pm

              Personally, I would prefer someone who holds an absolute minimum of wacky ideas to have his or her finger on the nuclear trigger.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm

              Well, Christians believe in witchcraft (suffer not a witch to live) and I have been cool with that.

              It would depend on the person and how divorced from the actual world they were in regards to their religion.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:20 pm

            That is a not unreasonable way to interpret Carson’s views: he does not support a religious test for office, he just holds that no Muslim should be president.

            In the case of Scott, that would be based on his qualities as an individual rather than just regarding everyone in a faith as unsuitable.

            Being a horror writer, I can easily imagine a faith that is completely devoted to evil (such as Cthulhu worship). I would certainly not vote for a member of that faith. I could also imagine a faith that explicitly contradicts the constitution, that forbids a believer from upholding the constitution and so on. I’d say that such views would thus disqualify a member of that faith from the job. Likewise, a person whose faith forbid even the slightest consumption of alcohol would not be qualified as a beer or wine taster.

            Well, I would not vote for her because of so many other reasons.

  3. ronster12012 said, on September 28, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Michael

    ……………………………………………………..
    His fellow candidate, Donald Trump, has also faced some criticism for his persistence in feeding the suspicions that President Obama is a secret Muslim.
    ……………………………………………………….

    I hope The Donster just told the critics to GTFO…. that’s how you treat cockroaches.And you never apologise to cockroaches.

    ……………………………………………………………
    “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”
    …………………………………………………………….

    Yes, obviously. Islam doesn’t accept the concept of freedom of religion or of no religion. Nor does it accept freedom of speech. Nor does it accept democracy. Now there are moslem ‘democracies’ but insofar as someone is a moslem they cannot accept democracy.

    …………………………………………………..
    “The bigotry against Muslims has also been compared to the mass internment of Japanese Americans during WWII.”
    ……………………………………………………

    There should be nothing to apologise for. While I believe that Japan was set up to get the US into the war that was part of the bankers/elites plans, there is absolutely no question that in times of war all measures are on the table. It is quite naive to assume that mere citizenship trumps ethnicity, culture, history or homeland.

    ……………………………………………………
    “Though I am not a Mormon, in 2011 I wrote a defense of Mitt Romney and Mormonism against accusations that Mormonism is a cult.”
    ……………………………………………………

    Of course Mormonism is a cult and a particularly idiotic one at that. Mormonism is heavily Freemasonic especially at the higher levels.
    The real question is not whether Mormonism is a cult but rather what a cult. Christianity, islam, Judaism, Buddhism Shinto etc etc…all cults. same goes for feminism, marxism, and other idiocies, all cults. Even the global warmists exhibit symptoms of culthood. Cult formation seems to be hard wired into humans. Put a few together and next thing you know, you have a cult. Anti racism is a cult too….

    ……………………………………………………………………….
    “I would hope that what we learned as a country from the injustice against the Japanese Americans would make any decent American ashamed of talk of getting rid of American citizens.”
    ……………………………………………………………………….

    You are equating holding citizenship status, an administrative affair with being a real american. Not so. Same goes in Oz. We are being subjected to an invasion of moslems and others non assimilables and are told that they are real Aussies by gov propaganda dept. No one would ever call me, a white european Australian, an Iraqi simply because I held an Iraqi passport….or a chinese, because I somehow held chinese citizenship… so why are we told that a Middle Eastern economic opportunist is somehow a real Aussie…no way..This is just our stupid(or very cunning) opinion makers in action.

    …………………………………………………………………….
    “While it is possible that Islam is the one religion that cannot become part of American society, history shows that claims that seem to be bigotry generally turn out to be just that. As such, it seems rather reasonable to regard the accusations against American Muslims as bigotry. This is not to make the absurd claim that every single American Muslim is an ideal, law abiding citizen—just a refutation of unthinking bigotry.”
    ………………………………………………………………………

    What do you think you have to gain by tolerating islam and moslems in the US? You accept that it may be one religion that cannot be a part of the US, what if that turns out to be the case? How do you fix that mistake? You can’t….you are stuck with it.
    So it comes back to a risk/reward story, what do you hope to gain from allowing moslems in the US versus what could you lose. IMO, you have absolutely nothing to gain. So, it’s no gain for a possible(IMO certain) loss.
    Are they good betting odds?

    ……………………………………………………………………..
    “There are also the stock claims that nearly all Muslims wish to impose Sharia law on America, that Islam (unlike any other faith) cannot become a part of American society,
    ………………………………………………………………………..

    Of course moslems would like to impose sharia law in the US, it’s what they do. Look up sharia law zones in London, a moslem infested rathole.
    It is simply about numbers and nothing else, It’s not personal at all. Mohammed down the road may be a good bloke, lends you his lawnmower and you lend him the edger…..but when are in the minority as a white kaffir how do you think things will play out then?
    Moslems have no compunction about forcing sharia law onto their host countries but only when they have the power, ATM, they do not have that power but what will happen when they do? France has 750 moslem no go zones where police are attacked if they enter…so they stay out. Do you want that?

    …………………………………………………………………………….
    “and that taqiyya allows Muslims a license to lie to achieve their (nefarious) goals. The assertion about taqiyya is especially useful—any attempt by Muslims to refute these accusations can be dismissed as falling under taqiyya.'”
    ……………………………………………………………………………..

    Are you a Taqiyya denialist? Are you saying that Taqiyya doesn’t exist? Why would anyone (except naive white people)expect others to always tell them the truth…WTF??? Gullible or what?
    Of course if I wanted to infiltrate and possibly take over a society I would lie too if asked was that my aim, People lie all the time about their plans and goals and methods so why wouldn’t moslems lie?

    cheers

    • ronster12012 said, on September 29, 2015 at 10:05 am

      Just came across this re taqqiya. Seems that there are 3 other forms of moslem sanctioned lying

      Tawriya is defined as concealing, and it could be called “creative lying”.

      Kitman is characterized by someone telling only part of the truth.

      Muruna means using “flexibility” to blend in with the enemy or the surroundings.

      From http://www.islam-watch.org/authors/139-louis-palme/1095-knowing-four-arabic-words-may-save-our-civilization-from-islamic-takeover.html

      So the question is….how could anyone trust a moslem if lying is part of their creed? Not incidental lying that occurs everywhere but religiously approved lying and we are the target.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        I suppose we would have to use the usual means of detecting falsehoods and lies. Like we use with every damn politician.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 3:39 am

          Michael

          How do you feel about a creed that condones lying, especially since you are likely to be the target? Christianity for all its faults, real and imaginary, doesn’t condone lying at all. This seems to be a really basic incompatibility IMO.

      • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 11:20 pm

        Is that a creed held by most Muslims? There’s lots of stuff in the Old and New testament that isn’t really held by contemporary Christians, for example.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:21 am

          Amateur

          That’s the tricky part, we just don’t know what is still held to be valid now, given that it is a religious observance to lie we are talking about.

          • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:24 am

            It is tricky, but I guess all you can really do is study the actual behavior of actual Muslims who claim to be in certain groups or sects of the religion to try and figure out what those actual practices are.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:33 am

              Amateur

              But to really study the behaviour of say, moslems it would be important to actually see clearly what is going on and not assume that ‘they are just like us’. Maybe they are…but I doubt it.

  4. amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:54 am

    Nice post Michael. I am very concerned about violent Muslim extremism. On the other hand, I am also very concerned about anti-Muslim discrimination.
    I know wonderful Muslims, and I’ve known awful Christians. Someone who is committed to the violent destruction of the U.S. or the radical overthrow of the U.S. Constitution should not be voted into office, obviously, regardless of their religion. But simply being born a Muslim should not disqualify you from the Presidential office. That is patent bigotry and morally unjustifiable IMO.

    • TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      So being a Muslim is something you are born with, like your skin color?

      • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 11:11 pm

        Not like skin color, it’s not physical, it’s cultural, but in a sense, yeah. I was certainly born into Judaism. All it takes to be considered Jewish by the Jewish faith is a Jewish mother. I was given a Hebrew name and circumcised as a baby. I would certainly call that being born into a certain religion. Whether or not I choose to continue with that religion as a rational decision maker when I’m old enough to make those kinds of decisions, of course, is up to me.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:28 am

          Amateur

          Correct me if I am wrong but being a jew isn’t about religion, is it? It’s a ethnic or racial label, no? There are plenty of atheist jews who are no less jewish for being atheist.

        • TJB said, on September 30, 2015 at 7:52 am

          Amateur, if people are born with their faith, I am wondering how you view President Obama’s religion? He was clearly born a Muslim and was indoctrinated in Islam as a child. Later, he converted to Christianity.

    • TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      This is actually where Mike should have started his essay: what does it mean to be a Muslim? How do we answer this question? Can we use polls of Muslim people? If, for example, 80% or more of Muslims believe X, can we conclude that being a Muslim most likely entails believing X?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2015 at 5:24 pm

        I’ve written on that in other posts.

        • TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm

          Yes, but I don’t remember that you arrived at a conclusion.

          Remind us what minimum set of beliefs a person must have and rituals he must follow to be considered a Muslim?

          I have often wondered if John Gotti should be considered a Catholic?

  5. TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    One of the biggest difficulties in dealing with Islamic terror is that there seems to be no easy way of detecting the violent extremists that hide within the peaceful majority.

    After every attack we hear: “He was just an ordinary guy who never caused any problem…”

    Is there anything we can conclude from this?

    • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      Probably we can conclude something, but it’s not that no Muslim should ever be elected President. At least I don’t think so.

    • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:38 am

      TJ

      Safest option in that case is not to allow larger than absolutely necessary moslem communities to form in western countries. As the size grows then the number of extremists increases and the potential problem of radicalizing the rest increases too.

  6. TJB said, on September 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Mike, if you dislike someone because of his beliefs, is that really bigotry? For example, is is bigoted to dislike White Supremacists?

    • amateurphilosopher41 said, on September 29, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      One Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of a bigot is..

      : a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

      A belief is an idea, so that would seem to fit this definition. Of course, the dislike has to be unfair. Is it unfair to dislike white supremacists – i.e. people who irrationally hate races that aren’t white? That seems like a pretty fair thing to dislike.

      • ronster12012 said, on September 30, 2015 at 4:51 am

        Amateur

        While I accept the dictionary definition of bigot, in reality it includes just about everybody. We all have our prejudices and strong dislikes. Give me half an hour with and I will show you a bigot…..so the term is almost meaningless.

        “White supremacists”….easy target. Anyone who believes in white ethno states is called a “white supremacist”
        all bullshit…..just a shaming technique. I support the idea of white ethno state so I am used to being called names.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: