Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Muslim Bigotry or Delusional Teaching?

Most of us questions why Muslims behave the way they do. It is unreasonable that people would feel “more nervous flying if a Muslim man was on the plane” considering the fact that nearly 100% of deadly airline incidents over the last twenty years have, in fact, involved Muslim men?

A recent USA Today / Gallup Poll found 39% of respondents felt at least some prejudice against Muslims. The same percentage favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID "as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States." About one-third said U.S. Muslims were sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and 22% said they wouldn't want Muslims as neighbors.

Psychologist Mona Amer of Yale University Medical School studied 611 Arab-American adults and found that they “had much worse mental health than Americans overall.” In particular, the people in her sample showed alarming levels of clinical depression, with about one half of those she studied showing serious symptoms of this disorder, compared to only 20% of a similar group in the general population.

Michael Medved provides insight into this prejudice:
If you argue that Western prejudice against Islam, and insensitive social interactions with non-believers, account for the violent, suicidal and depressed status of so many Muslims, then one must conclude that the faithful “back home” in predominantly Islamic societies would display far fewer of these difficulties than their counterparts in London, Amsterdam, Paris or Dearborn. In fact, all-Muslim societies (Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Algeria, and many others) remain the most violent, brutal, impoverished and benighted cultures on earth; immigrants from those nightmarish lands do vastly better when they resettle in the West, not worse.

If Western prejudice represents the core problem facing Islamic communities, then why do the two million (or more) Muslims in the United States count as the wealthiest, most successful believers anywhere on earth? Why do the one million Arab citizens of Israel enjoy by far the best standard of living and the highest levels of education (according to UN figures) of any Arabs in the Middle East? Logical analysis suggests that more devout Muslims who wear traditional robes and head coverings fare worse than their assimilated counterparts not because they provoke more prejudice from their neighbors, but because they have isolated themselves more fully in a deeply dysfunctional, even demented, medieval culture.

Despite anti-Semitic screeds that warn of Jewish plots to achieve international “control,” not even the most fervent religious Zionist has ever called for imposing halakha (Jewish law) on the nations of the world, while hundreds of millions of Muslims openly demand that governments everywhere should adapt sharia (Islamic religious law) as the law of the land.

The best way to respond to aggressive, triumphalist religiosity from the Muslim community isn’t to insist on more tolerance, or even acceptance, of Islamic demands; nor can we hope to counteract the allure of Jihadist ideology with ringing affirmations of easy-going secularism. Given the deep-seated human hunger for connection with a Supreme Being, the nearly universal yearning to draw closer to eternal truth, it’s not possible to beat something (radical Islam) with nothing (secular agnosticism). In this sense, the United States, with our robust movement of Christian revival, counts as far better equipped for the struggle ahead than our European allies where traditional faith of all kinds (except for Islam) has largely collapsed. Even skeptics and non-believers ought to welcome the vigor of Christian evangelism as the most effective counterweight to fundamentalist Islam. If those three British bomb plot suspects who converted to Islam had instead found their way to Pentecostal Christianity, or traditional Catholicism, or the Church of Jesus Christ [of] Latter Day Saints, would they ever have considered killing themselves to blow planes out of the sky?

The problem with Muslim communities in the US and Europe isn’t that they face discrimination from their neighbors; it’s that they receive dysfunctional, delusional teaching in too many of their own mosques. And the way to overcome that teaching isn’t to demand more respect from infidel non-believers, but to respond to the Islamic challenge with an energetic assertion of more positive and productive religious alternatives.
The Muslim community must stand up against militant Islam or these prejudices will continue if not worsen.

1 comment:

Reach Upward said...

This certainly won't sit well with those that want to eliminate all public demonstrations of Christian faith in the U.S.