Among atheist sites I read, Islam is the elephant in the room. We take free shots at Christianity in all its snowflake forms; unique, though basically all the same. Scientology gets it from all sides, from both believer and non-believer alike. Even Judaism gets a fair amount of shit heaped on it – usually from former followers (anyone else is usually off limits… I’m talking to you, Mr. Gibson).
There was that row over the Mohammed cartoon, but it blew over, and there hasn’t been an incident since. With the recent attacks at Fort Hood, maybe this will change. However, there’s always a pre-emptive, anti-backlash campaign after incidents like this. Don’t get me wrong, no Muslim should be persecuted in any physical way, but it’s time we engage on the intellectual battlefield.
The free transmission of ideas is one right that should never be infringed, no matter the circumstance. I emphasize “transmission of ideas,” because the common retort of yelling “Fire!” in a theatre is not about discussion. To me, even yelling “Jihad” or “Allah akbar” is free speech I defend, up to the point where they pull the trigger or flip the switch and harm people. Still, I appreciate them making their message clear; there’s nothing I hate more than unanswered questions.
Islam is not above criticism. Atheists and Christians spar quite frequently over the implications of fanatical violence, but Islam seems to be paired with Judaism as unmentionable – and even Judaism is often indirectly addressed in discussions about Israel. There seems to be a shortage of discussion about Islam that is critical.
I don’t understand why. Atheists: this is the opportunity to expose religion for what it can do to people. We always bring it back to the Crusades when talking to Christians, and they point out that was a long time ago – by the way, yeah it’s a long time ago, like 400-500 years, but you know what’s 2000 years old? That whole Jesus Christ garbage, so stop with the “That was a long time ago” stuff.
Muslim nations provide an endlessly growing list of oppressive acts in the name of religion. Maybe it’s just easier to criticize what’s close to you. It’s also not easy for us to hear someone say “Islam means peace,” and to look them in the face and say, “You lie. It means ‘submission,’ and I submit to no imaginary god, no matter how violently you disagree with me.”