Harris and Hitchens on the NYC Mosque August 25, 2010

Harris and Hitchens on the NYC Mosque

Sam Harris offers his thoughts about what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf should be saying right now about the (close to) Ground Zero Mosque (and community center) — really, it’s a chance for him to speak out against Islam in general:

“… While the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity also contain terrible passages, it has been many centuries since they truly informed the mainstream faith. Hence, we do not tend to see vast numbers of Jews and Christians calling for the murder of apostates today. This is not true of Islam, and there is simply no honest way of denying this shocking disparity. We are members of a faith community that appears more concerned about harmless cartoons than about the daily atrocities committed in its name — and no one suffers from this stupidity and barbarism more than our fellow Muslims. Islam must grow up. And Muslim moderates like ourselves must be the first to defend the rights of novelists, cartoonists, and public intellectuals to criticize all religious faiths, including our own.”

Harris is right about a big problem with Islam — there are not enough moderate Muslims speaking out against the extremists — but I’m not holding my breath about the Imam saying anything close to it.

Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens weighs in on the controversy itself:

As for the gorgeous mosaic of religious pluralism, it’s easy enough to find mosque Web sites and DVDs that peddle the most disgusting attacks on Jews, Hindus, Christians, unbelievers, and other Muslims — to say nothing of insane diatribes about women and homosexuals. This is why the fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be “phobic.” A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

They both have problems with Islam… but not so much with this mosque specifically. I’m having a hard time understanding people who oppose it. It would at least make sense to me to hear people say we shouldn’t build mosques at all because it supports a theology that lacks redeeming quality. (I don’t agree with that, but it would make sense to me.)

It would make sense if people said we should allow this mosque just as we would allow mosques anywhere else (I agree with that).

But the arguments that this is too close to Ground Zero, or too insensitive to relatives of the victims of 9/11, or a slap in the face to America — those are overblown and underwhelming. Muslims died in the attacks as did people of other faiths and no faith. To those who think it’s too close, I have yet to hear how far away a mosque would have to be to be considered “ok.” And the people building this mosque are hardly friendly with Al Qaida.

Go all in or all out. There’s nothing overly special about this mosque, though.


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  • AND innocent Muslims died in the 9/11 attacks…

    AND people seem to think that Christians have a monopoly on Ground Zero

    AND there are plenty of mosques in Lower Manhattan already…

    See my blog for more ranting. I agree with you though (as I usually do). C

  • Hitch

    See we should discuss each others views. Not each others rights to build and promote our views.

    I’m not in a good position to judge if Hitchens’s characterization of Rauf is sensible, but at least both of them have the discussion on roughly the right level.

    We do not have to deny, in fact we shouldn’t deny people’s rights, to have a different perspective.

    Tolerance is a huge issue. I really would love to see more discussion of the notion of tolerance. To my Hitchens discussion of tolerance is too brief.

    But as Popper argued, tolerance is not to tolerate intolerance. The tricky part is to identify when something is intolerant.

  • NFQ

    What I really feel many people are still missing in this conversation is — we shoudn’t expect anyone to be particularly happy just because a mosque is being built (even if it were actually a mosque). Of course if you ask a non-Muslim, “Should a mosque be built?” they would and should answer no. Imagine asking a Jew their opinion on a new Mormon temple. Imagine asking a Hindu their opinion on a new Presbyterian church. Imagine asking a Lutheran their opinion on a new synagogue in their neighborhood. No one is ever going to say, “Yes, I think those beliefs are awesome and we should do everything we can to encourage the propagation of those beliefs!” If they would say that, they would join the religion in question. What we do, what we have always done, is tolerate the practice of other religions. But of course we disagree with them. Of course we think there are grievously misguided. That is just entirely beside the point.

  • I’m having a hard time understanding people who oppose it.

    Here ya go:

    http://onestdv.blogspot.com/2010/08/clarifications-on-ground-zero-mosque.html

  • Ron in Houston

    Hitchens does have a way with words…

    I’m also not partial to the phrase “Islamaphobia.” You can be opposed to Islam and certainly not be an Islamaphobe.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    There’s Already a Mosque at Site of Terrorist Attack
    by Ed Brayton

    Did you know that there is already a mosque, built with the help and operated with the endorsement of the American government, less than 100 feet from the site of an attack on 9/11 that killed 184 Americans? In fact, it was built literally on the smoldering grounds of the attack and the altar in the mosque contains symbols of all of the victims of that day’s attack.

    Talk about deliberately putting a symbol of Muslim triumph over America on hallowed ground! Every day, hundreds of Muslims gather there to say their daily prayers literally in the shadow of Ground Zero for the attack, a clear and obvious slap in the face to the families of those victims of Islamic violence. Right? Wrong. It’s in the Pentagon. And no one seems to be making a peep about it.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    This is why the fake term Islamophobia…

    Harris and Hitchens have both recently called Islamophobia fake. I disagree. Even if Islam has much to dislike, and to fear, this does not guarantee that the fear expressed, mostly by the Christian right, is rational. Analogously, just because someone is out to get you does not mean that you are not paranoid.

  • Tamara

    It isn’t a MOSQUE! It is a *rec center with a prayer room*. That is the most ridiculous part of this ordeal in my opinion.

    And atheists should take note on how quickly and efficiently the media will enable a group of ignorant Christians to call out a disliked group outside of their religion and attempt to restrict their Constitutional freedoms.

  • Karmakin

    What Tamara said. That’s what makes this “Mosque” special. If people are going to be building religious buildings, this is the type of growth that we should be applauding. Things that help the local community, and are not just about selfish belief.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Harris: This is not true of Islam, and there is simply no honest way of denying this shocking disparity.

    Harris needs to improve his rhetoric. He does here what he did twice in his commentary on the Park51 project itself: he implies that anyone who disagrees with him is dishonest. This is insulting and immediately distances any reader who might disagree with him. It is also offputting to anyone who might tend to agree with him on the issues but recognizes the signs of rampant demagoguery.

    Sam Harris: don’t be a dick.

  • I can never understand the “not enough moderate Muslims speaking out” sentiment. They have, it’s just that the right wing is so determined to ignore and even silence it, that most of us never hear about it. We’re distracted by “Ground Zero Mosque ZOMG!” anti-Islam sentiment.

    As for Imam Rauf, what more does he need to say in order to convince people he’s against terrorism? He worked alongside the FBI in counter-terrorism efforts, is quoted many times as being against terrorism and the people who distorted Islam for their cause, has represented the U.S. in Muslim and Arab nations where they actually thought he was an American agent instead of a real Muslim.

    What more does he need to do? He’s spent a great deal of his life working against terrorism, in favor of integration of Muslims into American society, and the spreading of democracy into Muslim and Arab nations worldwide.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Reginald Selkirk,

    What is the penalty for apostasy in Islam?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    What is the penalty for apostasy in Islam?

    As defined in the Koran, I presume you mean. The same as that defined in the Bible for Judeo-christianity.

    Ah, you’ll say, most Christians and Jews don’t actually support that any more.

    Ah, I’ll say. Do the Park51 muslims support the death penalty for apostasty? Did you ask them? Or are you just lumping them in with Al Qaeda and all the rest in your “muslim” stereotype?

    The sort of black & white thinking which does not allow people to leave the bin in which you wish to place them, and condemn them for it, is bad.

    Muslim cab driver slashed by upstate New York man because of his religion, police say

    Lucky for him that Islamophobia isn’t real, or he might have been really hurt.

  • Mike

    Hence, we do not tend to see vast numbers of Jews and Christians calling for the murder of apostates today. This is not true of Islam

    Really? The world muslum population is about 1.8 billion. Do we really observe a vast number of them calling for the murder of apostates? Where’s the reasearch? Where’s the data? Or is that an assumption based on the prevalance of terrorism “reporting” from the main stream media?

    Harris is right about a big problem with Islam — there are not enough moderate Muslims speaking out against the extremists

    How is this any different from there not being enough moderate Christians speaking out against Christian extremists (as we have often complained about in comments at FA)? I am not saying that this is not a problem, simply that it is not restricted only to Islam.

    Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

    Again, show me the data, or go home. Define “often.” If you can prove that even 50% of all Islamic preaching is calling for my death, I’ll start to worry about Islam. Until then, the fear is irrational.

  • Jeff Dale

    It’ll be interesting to see what vision of moderate Islam emerges from this project. In the worldwide spotlight, there may be an upside either way, in terms of elevating the profile of moderate Islam. If we get the kind of questionable moderation that urges everyone to get along but then makes excuses for cartoon-inspired violence, it could get easier to confront the problem of ineffectual or invisible moderation in Islam without most people assuming such talk is bigotry and xenophobia. And if we get a more unambiguous moderation, the example of these high-profile moderates could inspire and embolden other moderates to stand up against extremism.

  • WishinItWas

    So am assuming none of the people who are against this “mosque” would be opposed to no longer letting catholic churches be built within 2miles of any type of schooling/playground/park area because that would be a. insult/slap in the face to all the victims of child molestation and there families …… we have to do it for the children …..right?

  • Jeff Dale

    @Mike:

    Really? The world muslum population is about 1.8 billion. Do we really observe a vast number of them calling for the murder of apostates? Where’s the reasearch? Where’s the data? Or is that an assumption based on the prevalance of terrorism “reporting” from the main stream media?

    Even if it’s only a few percent, that’s millions of people. We periodically hear reports of some of the more extreme Muslim preachers calling for the murder of apostates, while some others refrain from condemning it. And of course, there are the reports of ex-Muslims actually being threatened or murdered for apostasy. I’m not willing to believe that all such reports are made up or exaggerated beyond recognition. By contrast, I’ve never heard of any Christian preacher calling for murder of apostates, or any ex-Christian being murdered for apostasy, anytime in the recent past.

    How is this any different from there not being enough moderate Christians speaking out against Christian extremists (as we have often complained about in comments at FA)? I am not saying that this is not a problem, simply that it is not restricted only to Islam.

    You’re right, in that it’s not restricted only to Islam. And of course, it’s not only with Islam that people die because of it. The Catholic spreading lies about AIDS and contraception in Africa could kill millions. There doesn’t seem to be any difference in principle between people dying from a random bombing in a Western city and people dying from deliberate disinformation in Africa. We’re all people. So to be sure, there ought to be strong and vocal opposition to the church’s policy from lay Catholics, up to and including voting with one’s feet, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of that. I’d expect people to be fleeing that church in droves on the AIDS issue alone, let alone the pedophilia scandal.

    But we were talking about a particular case involving Muslims, so perhaps we should just stipulate that we would have the same criticism in a case involving Christianity, and move on.

    Again, show me the data, or go home. Define “often.” If you can prove that even 50% of all Islamic preaching is calling for my death, I’ll start to worry about Islam. Until then, the fear is irrational.

    Again, there’s no modern-day strain of Christianity seeking to enforce Biblical death sentences, while that is manifestly the case for Islam. It doesn’t take 50% of the preaching, or 50% of the adherents, to make it a threat. The odds of any given person happening to become a victim of it may be small, but I would concede this only insofar as we can keep WMD’s out of Islamists’ hands, which is far from certain. There’s more than adequate reason to think that large numbers of innocent people will become victims before this threat is abated.

  • Jeff Dale

    @WishinItWas:

    So am assuming none of the people who are against this “mosque” would be opposed to no longer letting catholic churches be built within 2miles of any type of schooling/playground/park area because that would be a. insult/slap in the face to all the victims of child molestation and there families …… we have to do it for the children …..right?

    Great point.

  • Gordon Hopkins

    If Walmart wanted to build on that spot, everyone here knows it would never be allowed. Suppose I owned that land and wanted to put up a fast food burger joint. If the neighbors said, “No, no! You can’t do that. You’ll make our children fat,” then I don’t get to build my burger joint. That’s just the way New York City works. If we were talking about a different city then the situation would be different because, yes, if you own the property you should be able to build any damn thing you want but New York City doesn’t work that way. New York City isn’t a special case because of ground zero. It’s a special case because it’s a tiny, overpopulated, overbuilt island where the government and the polulation have unprecedented control over what is done with the land. In other words, if enough neighbors say “no,” then it doesn’t get built. Well, I think plenty of New Yorkers have said “no.”

    So the question is not “Why shouldn’t the mosque be built?” The real question is, “Why are we making an exception for this one group of people that we wouldn’t make for anyone else?”

  • Judith Bandsma

    Tamara, I’m with you. Whoever heard of a mosque with a cooking school and a basketball court?

    But what bothers me the most is that even the most outspoken progressives are allowing the right-wing nutters to frame how they address Park 51 and still call it a ‘mosque’. And sometimes even still call it Cordoba House even though the name has been changed.

    Why are we allowing the haters to tell us that we have to use a ‘fighting word’ in referring to this building when we KNOW that that isn’t the case?

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Reginald Selkirk,

    Actually I was asking what you believe, personally(sorry if a redundant question, but it seems appropriate to me that those who defend the term islamaphobia need to get used to answering it directly without obfuscation, and understand that you might not be believed).

    Should apostasy warrant death?

  • Gordon Hopkins

    “But what bothers me the most is that even the most outspoken progressives are allowing the right-wing nutters to frame how they address Park 51 and still call it a ‘mosque’”

    There are plenty on the left who are opposed to Park 51 (or whatever it is being called today) and I have heard a few (but not many) on the right support it.

    What bothers me most are the so-called “progressives” who insist on calling anyone who disagrees with them “right-wing nutters.”

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Actually I was asking what you believe, personally

    Really? Then why did you instead ask, “What is the penalty for apostasy in Islam?

    These are two very different questions. If you really meant to ask the former, then you are colossally bad at expressing yourself.

    But to answer: No, I do not think that apostasy warrants death. I have no idea why you would ask me that, as I am an atheist.

    So let me ask you: Do you, personally, think that mint chocolate chip is the best flavour of ice cream?

  • i stopped listening to Hitch and any other atheist who talks mostly or exclusively about Islam, a long time ago. it’s racist propaganda in service to republican hypocrites and warmongerers, and it annoys the hell out of me. people who advocate genocide, racially motivated at that, are not worth my attention nor respect.

    if we were to have a truly pro-atheist discussion about what kind of tolerance there would be in the world if atheists ran it, that would be fine. radicals like me would say stuff like “end construction of all houses of worship” and moderates would say stuff like “tax organized religion” and we’d meet in the middle. and be inclusive of all organized superstitions damaging our world and common future. but that’s not what people like this are doing. which is why their arguments aren’t really rational, or logical. therefore, reason tells me that they aren’t in this because they are working to spread atheism in the world, but instead cashing nice paychecks from Halliburton and other big corporations that make profit off a world of endless religious strife.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Reginald Selkirk,

    Well perhaps my question wasn’t clear enough I’ll have to work on that. It’s hard to tell what posters here believe unless one has read many of their posts before, and I hadn’t any of yours before today. Many non atheists post here as will an increasing number of islamists as time goes on I suspect. I think Harris and Dawkins have touched raw nerves and expose not only the insanity of religion but the foolishness of naive multiculturalists. I have nothing in particular against Muslims, Christians or believers of any other religion, if and only if they don’t practice sharia and other horrendous behaviors that their holy books mandate. I’m ambivalent about the proposed center.

    No I don’t think ccmint is the best ice cream flavor, Ben and Jerry’s chunky monkey or some such would be 😛
    I’m done with this now, prosper and try to do no harm.

  • By contrast, I’ve never heard of any Christian preacher calling for murder of apostates, or any ex-Christian being murdered for apostasy, anytime in the recent past.

    that’s because you’re watching too much TV. and the wrong channels at that, i’m sure. take it from me, in the equally hated “lesbian” category: xtians in this country are violent, genocidal, hateful, and murderous. any gay person who is aware of the dangers that come from outside our community understands this. this is not to say queers aren’t hated by other religions, and threatened and murdered by their adherents. but if you think american xtians aren’t murderously violent, you haven’t been paying attention. “god will kill you, faggot!” what, you’ve never seen that sign? you don’t associate that saying with one particularly famous (but far from unique) american xtian church who use those signs and harrass people on or near their own private property? if you’re an atheist, you’re next on their list.

  • Again, there’s no modern-day strain of Christianity seeking to enforce Biblical death sentences,

    this is so completely not factual it’s hard to know where to begin.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    A Mob at Work

    Here’s video footage of an anti-mosque rally near Ground Zero, where a dark-skinned man trying to walk through the group is presumed by the emotionally-charged mob to be a Muslim. They crowd around him and begin to act in a clearly threatening manner. The reality? He’s a construction worker who actually works at Ground Zero…

    How luck that carpenter is that Islamophobia isn’t real; just think how badly he might have been beaten otherwise.

  • Erp

    Quite a few Christian ministers in Uganda are pushing for a law with more severe penalties for homosexual behavior (current law has jail terms). The proposed law would have the death penalty for multiple offenders. They have support from some Christians in the US (though some fairly conservative US Christians have also denounced it).

  • It would at least make sense to me to hear people say we shouldn’t build mosques at all because it supports a theology that lacks redeeming quality. (I don’t agree with that, but it would make sense to me.)

    I take it, then, that you missed the Godless Monster’s take on the situation here and here.

  • Mike

    @Jeff

    Had all kinds of points to reply to you with, but people actually expect me to do work… 🙁

  • p.s.

    Onestdv:
    from your blog-

    The solution is rather simple. Protest this until they can’t handle it and then outlaw Muslim immigration.

    seriously? seriously??? You’re like a modernized McCarthy.

  • Claudia

    A phobia is an irrational fear or dislike. Islamic preaching very often manifests precisely this feature, which is why suspicion of it is by no means irrational.

    Yes, and not every action or opinion against a person of color is irrational or based on race, but that doesn’t mean racism doesn’t exist.

    I don’t doubt Islamofobia is overused and misused to quelch perfectly rational opposition to aspects of Islam. I could even concede, purely for the sake of argument, that it may be rational to oppose Islam as a whole. However even acceping this you cannot eliminate the obvious, observable fact that there is irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. If Islamofobia doesn’t exist what do you call these people? What do you call this man:

    A 21-year-old man is being held without bail on charges he stabbed a New York City cab driver in the throat after asking whether he was Muslim.

    Not every fear about Islam or action taken against Muslims is the product of Islamofobia. By the same token, not every fear about Islam and action taken against Muslim is the product of rational concern. Some of it is born out of ignorance, fear and tribal hatred. And it’s these things we call Islamofobia. To argue the term is invalid is to argue that all fears and actions about Islam are fully rational, which iconveniently is contradicted by observable reality.

  • trixr4kids

    @Chicago Dyke:

    reason tells me that they aren’t in this because they are working to spread atheism in the world, but instead cashing nice paychecks from Halliburton and other big corporations that make profit off a world of endless religious strife

    Really? You think Hitchens is being paid by Halliburton? And “reason” tells you this?

    Again, there’s no modern-day strain of Christianity seeking to enforce Biblical death sentences,

    this is so completely not factual it’s hard to know where to begin

    Well, an occasional anonymous nutter, who is far outside the mainstream, may possibly be defined as a “strain” of Christianity, but I think you are stretching the point.

  • SickoftheUS

    Palaverer wrote:

    I take it, then, that you missed the Godless Monster’s take on the situation here and here.

    I think the Godless Monster has some culture-of-origin issues. (As do I, btw.)

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    A major reason why Xtians aren’t killing heretics today is the separation of church & state. The modern secularized state no longer enforces church law, nor permits churches to. We don’t really grasp how different it was in the past. Galileo was tried, threatened with torture and put under house arrest and Bruno was burned alive by the Church. Now imagine if the modern church had the power do the same to Dawkins, Hitchens or Hemant….

  • SickoftheUS

    chicago dyke wrote:

    Again, there’s no modern-day strain of Christianity seeking to enforce Biblical death sentences,

    this is so completely not factual it’s hard to know where to begin.

    Exactly right. As if centuries, right up to the present day, of western Xtian nations’ invading, colonizing, proselytizing to and converting the populations of, a multitude of foreign lands – because we western Xtian countries have a monopoly on the right way of living in this world, doncha know? – and killing millions of those lands’ people along the way, doesn’t count as the enforcement of Biblical death sentences by extended and heavily rationalized means.

    In the murderous country I call home, the distinction between “democratic” and “religiously moral” is almost completely blurred, both by the common yokels and by the rulers who carry out my society’s values, in belief and in practice.

    And like you, I’ve lost a lot of respect for these authors, especially Harris, as they’ve made special effort to demonize Islam by pointing out these supposed vast distinctions between the Abrahamic religions. When they do this, they’re a victim of their own cultures’ constantly reinforced biases, blatant and subtle.

    Hello??? The US is an aggressive invader of sovereign territories in long, brutal wars for power, control and resources. These wars are currently going on. When a nation makes war, it always propagandizes its citizens, preying on fears and exaggerating them to suit its ends.

    Has it occurred to these authors, and to ANY OF these posters here who so willingly rip into Islam and demarcate special characteristics of and requirements for it, that they are refusing to transcend their cultural mindfucks? ISLAM BAAAAAAD. Isn’t that right?

    Is it possible for Hemant and the other editors here to go, say, a month without any scare stories about Muslim religiosity, or to at least even up the tally with a deserving balance of Xtian, Jewish, Hindu, etc., horror?

    If the reply is, “But I’m just writing about what the hot religious issues are in our culture”, then my reply back is, “Why do you think so many of these issues bubbling to the surface these days emphasize the supposedly special evil of Islam?”

  • Jeff Dale

    Again, there’s no modern-day strain of Christianity seeking to enforce Biblical death sentences,

    this is so completely not factual it’s hard to know where to begin

    Well, an occasional anonymous nutter, who is far outside the mainstream, may possibly be defined as a “strain” of Christianity, but I think you are stretching the point.

    Actually, I stand corrected. My sincere thanks. The happenings in Uganda seem to qualify, and there are probably a few other examples we could summon. And certainly we don’t want to overlook other examples, like the deaths being caused in Africa by the Catholic church’s lies about AIDS and contraception, which aren’t exactly biblical death sentences but amount to about the same thing. Come to think of it, obstruction of stem cell research in America is also comparable in this regard, considering the millions of people thereby condemned to prolonged suffering and death so as to protect the supposed rights of 150-cell blastocysts with no nervous system.

    Anyway, as I think I mentioned up-thread, we should stipulate that other religions have their atrocities, not to mention potential atrocities in the event that more of them start taking their ancient books literally. In my own commentary (on other threads where it comes up), I do take other religions to task as well, when merited.

  • sailor

    “… While the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity also contain terrible passages, it has been many centuries since they truly informed the mainstream faith. Hence, we do not tend to see vast numbers of Jews and Christians calling for the murder of apostates today. This is not true of Islam, and there is simply no honest way of denying this shocking disparity.”

    There are several things here. Despite there being some truth to this statement, most of terribly regressive things being done in the name of Islam (including stonings and beatings) are at the behest of religious leaders who are de facto oppressive dictators in their communities. Most Muslims want a peaceful life, they and they want education for their daughters as well as their sons (Anyone who doubts this should read some of Greg Mortensen’s books about building schools in Pakistan an Afghanistan.)

    Even if we allow there is more fundamentalism and extremism in Islam, then the task is not to suppress the religion which will likely make it worse, but try to give it a helping hand into the 21st century.

    The US, if it follows its principals of freedom of religion can lead the way here. Freedom of religion means the religion still has to be practiced within the laws of the US. Transposing an old religion into a very modern and free country is going to result in modifications of that religion.

    Religions are the creation of people not the other way round. As people and ideas change so do the religions. Even in my lifetime I have seen legal discrimination against people with a different skin color end, and I am seeing now discrimination against gays beginning to end. Most churches in affected areas supported the discrimination against people with more skin pigmentation, they no no longer do. In fact most churches used to support slavery, they now no longer do. Churches are still having a struggle over gays, but in time they will come round.

    Islam is no more static than Christianity, it will change in time given the chance. This nonsense against the community center in New York is at least as primitive and nasty as the religion these people oppose. I always thought the US stood for freedom not bigotry.

  • Mike

    @Jeff

    A tip of the hat to you, sir.

  • Chris

    Given the fact that Muslim extremists are willing to kill anyone who speaks out against them, WHY are you (or the “supremely intelligent” Harris) surprised that there aren’t enough (any?) moderate Muslims speaking out against the extremists?

    Hitchens comments about how the “fake term Islamophobia is so dangerous: It insinuates that any reservations about Islam must ipso facto be “phobic”” are remarkably astute. One could say exactly the same thing about the fake term “homophobia”, which insinuates that any reservations about homosexual behavior must ipso facto be “phobic” as well.

    As to the usual claim of “Deaths being caused in Africa by the Catholic church’s lies about AIDS and contraception, …

    Stupid.

    Even secular sources have stated essentially the same thing as the supposed “lies” of the Catholic Church regarding condoms & the African AIDS stuff.

    The claim that the AIDS epidemic had been spread by heterosexual sex was confirmed as an incorrect assumption by researchers David Gisselquist & Stephen Potterat.

    A book by Edward Green (with an AIDS Prevention group at Harvard) reported that between 1989-2001, condom use in African countries skyrocketed – but so did the number of those infected with HIV. Was it “due to condom use”? I seriously doubt it, but the increase in condom appears to have done zilch in stemming the epidemic.

    At the request of UNAIDS (the UN Program on AIDS), Dr. Norman Hearst of UCSF did a scientific review on the question of whether condom promotion was helping to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but he found that the countries that saw the greatest increases in condom use tended to have the highest HIV rates.

    According to researchers, the biggest culprit seems to be the substandard level of cleanliness & sterilization in African medical care.

    On to the misleading (at best) claim of “obstruction of stem cell research.” Christians aren’t opposed to stem cell research, they’re opposed to killing unborn children in order to extract stem cells. Yes, those “150-cell blastocysts with no nervous system”, who can be seen scientifically to be individual, living human beings, regardless of the fact that they aren’t as well developed as you are.

    Besides, adult stem cells, which have greater potential than embryonic ones, have already been successfully used in numerous patients, while embryonic stem cells continue to remain in the “still researching possibilities” stage.

    Finally, I wouldn’t worry too much about “potential atrocities” that could someday be committed by religious believers, especially since atheistic regimes in the last 100 years have directly killed over 120 MILLION people, dwarfing even the most absurd claims of religious “atrocities”.

    Cheers…

  • muggle

    I’m totally disgusted at the Atheists who cry about persecution then turn around and want to persecute Muslims. Then with the next breath they also dare to bitch about Christians who cry persecution. While I’d agree with that, given how they’re acting with this mosque, it’s become the pot calling the kettle black.

  • BrettH

    I have to get up early so I’ll try to keep this short, but I had a couple comments:

    @Chicago Dyke: I thought you had some good points, but one thing kept distracting me. “Muslim” is not a race. I don’t like the term “Islamophobic” much because I think it’s overused, but at least it’s a bit more accurate. People who hate Muslims might also be racist, but those are two separate things. I know all the bigots in my conservative family are purely religious ones, no racism there.

    @Chris: I don’t have the time or inclination to argue abortion rights/morality, but you made one very big mistake. Very early embryos can not “be seen scientifically to be individual, living human beings”. The problem word there is “individual.” At the early stages they are a potentially infinite number of twins.

  • Brian Macker

    Whites have gotten killed by racist whites whose targets are blacks. That doesn’t mean the KKK is being sensitive when it sets up headquarters next to where MLK was killed. Yes, Islam is like the KKK because it actually advocates murder, subjugation, and the like.

    So what if Muslims kill Muslims. Islam was the specific motivation for the murders on 9/11. Learn it, remember it, understand it.

  • Aj

    Chris,

    Edward Green is basing his extraordinary claim on a small (n = 297) non-randomized controlled trial in Uganda selecting males aged 18-30 for instruction on condom use and coupons for condoms.

    As for the claim of “sky rocketing” condom use in Africa, I would really like some data for that. For instance, in Uganda condom ever-use reported by females rose from 1% in 1989 to 6% in 1995 to 16% in 2000 according to Demographic Health Surveys, and that’s not the consistent use that prevents HIV infection. According to James D Shelton and Beverly Johnston who acquired data from the UN and other donors of condoms, in 1995 600m condoms were donated to Africa, in 1998 340m donated, in 1999 500m plus 210m purchased by states in Africa, that’s 724m condoms, 4.6 condoms per man aged 15-59 years, in sub-Saharan African.

    Correlation does not equal causation. That condom use increased in countries with the greatest increase in HIV does not mean they’re causally connected, or in the direction the Pope and Edward Green would like to suggest.

    UNAIDS, including Dr. Norman Hearst, does not accept David Gisselquist conclusions, and the WHO had a team of experts review the data, and the models came back with the vast majority transmission through heterosexual sex. In any case, their pursuit seems to have been one of anomaly hunting. Catherine Hankins of UNAIDS cited some data counter to Gisselquist’s conclusions, that Asia is estimated to have a needle problem twice as bad as Africa but not the same HIV epidemic, that if HIV was transmitted mostly through injection there would be far greater prevalence of Hep C, and that data from needlestick accidents on medical professionals suggests a 1 in 300 infection rate.

    Consistent use of condoms is one very effective measure against the spread of HIV. There have been problems trying to get people in Africa to use them. In many places in Africa that’s thanks to the Roman Catholic Church, other religions, pseudo-scientists, and other forms of pricks. Where Africans are not being told using condoms is evil, they’re being told they actually spread HIV or some other bullshit. At least distributing condoms protects those that want protection.

    Scientifically a blastocyst is an individual (the term is organism), is living, and is of the human species. However, it’s a bit of a stretch to call something without a nervous system a “being”. You think these things have minds and a consciousness?

    I’m wondering whether theists are ignorant or dishonest when they bring up “atheistic regimes”. As if that has anything to do with motivating the killing of millions. It’s not like there aren’t ample examples of religious regimes willing to kill proportionally and within their technological means. The difference is in many cases they were directly motivated by their religious beliefs, whereas we atheists can safely say what we have in common with those murderers that happen to be atheists is as important as the men that have facial hair in common with them. If you think atheism had anything to do with murderous regimes you don’t even know what atheism is, but perhaps you don’t have enough intelligence to realize how stupid what you write is.

  • Brian Macker

    SickoftheUS,

    You have to stop reading Chomsky and Marx. Both are lying assholes. Especially Chomsky.

  • Grimalkin

    It’s not a mosque. Why are people still calling it a mosque? A mosque is a building that is used for prayer – this is a community centre that will *include* a prayer room. Just because a bunch of right-wingers used the term “mosque” doesn’t mean that we need to adopt their terminology!

    In any case, my only real objection to the building is the use of the name “Cordoba.” I do understand what they were trying to reference, but putting a building named after a European city that was conquered by Muslims right next to one of the biggest attack by Muslims onto a Western population just strikes me as being in poor taste. However, they seem to have changed the name now, so I’m good.

    My only other possible complaint is that the “artists’ rendering” of the building make it look absolutely hideous. I don’t know if they plan on improving the design at all, but holy crap it’s awful.

  • Muslim

    Moderate Islam is not Islam. So called “extremists” of today are merely trying to practice the religion in truth as it was revealed and taught by the last prophet. As for the real “extremists” they are few and are people who have left the fold of Islam without realizing it. Infact most moderates are in the same boat. They too have left the religion long long ago. Atleast the ones labelled moderates by you people. Islam is trying to be watered down till it becomes soft enough to mouled how they please. And this ground zero mosque is part of that plan. The people running the project including the imam are rubbish, not worth spitting on.

    The reason Islam is so hated is because it is unwavering. And unwilling to keep silent in the face of injustice. Despite your clAims and views. The people that run the world the world have only Islam and true Muslims to worry about, that’s why they want it’s spirit it’s core values out and gone.

    Once the true un adulterated Islam is gone the only ideology left will be “that of satisfying the desires while you can before you die”. Giving total control to elite few who are controlling us with an invisible iron fist because a people who don’t live for the next life and live soley for this life will never sacrifice his life for the suffering of others.

  • JR

    If people built a Christian center next to the site of the Oklahoma city federal building, the one that radical christian terrorist timothy mcveigh bombed over a decade ago, would we see the same uprising as we have with the Islamic center? People need to realize that it is the fundamental error of the religious texts that is the root of all of the problems between Arabs, Jews and Christians that has caused this terrorism and divisivness between peoplewouk would, without the cultural taint of their divisive
    religion, normally get along.