April 13, 2016
Alliance of American Liberals and Muslims, Deceiving Themselves and Others
I would use names, but I am confident if American Public Square ran a comparable event in other cities, the four Muslim advocates -- the moderator included -- would espouse almost identical views. They represent a type. So too did the overwhelmingly liberal audience. I could have written their questions for them.
These American Public Square debates feature an active online fact checker and a civility bell. I was a little queasy about the civility bell, but I welcomed the fact checker. He proved to be my greatest ally.
The state rep did a fine job. As an elected official he had to be a little cautious, but he made his case about terror and immigration well.
My strategy was a little different. Knowing that I was not about to convert anyone, I thought I could at least confuse the audience members with the truth, and the truth is that their affection for Islam makes no apparent sense. This proved to be a difficult assignment, and here is why.
In attempting to establish my premise, I said to the panel, “Muslims are culturally very conservative around the world,” adding rhetorically, “Is that fair to say?”
This premise struck me as inarguable. My fellow panelists felt otherwise. The two women, both wearing Hijabs, and the moderator all shouted out “No” or some variant. Said I, “When it comes to issues like family, women, abortion, gay rights, you’re telling me they’re not conservative?”
The moderator admonished me. “Jack,” he said, “you’re asking a question, and they didn’t give you the answer you want.” He then challenged me to make my case or move on.
Knowing there was a fact checker, I pulled out my one file card and read through the numbers from Pew Research Foundation, a liberal but generally reliable source. When asked about gay rights, 87 percent of Germans approved but no more than 9 percent of Muslims in any country surveyed and as little as 2 percent in some.
On the question of whether a women should always obey her husband, 87 percent of Muslims approved. On the question of whether apostates should be executed, 56 percent of Muslims who approved of Sharia law said yes. Asked whether they held “highly unfavorable” views of Jews, 99 percent of Jordanians and 100 percent of Lebanese sad yes. The fact checker could not deny what I was saying.
My fellow panelists could and did. They protested that these attitudes did not reflect American Muslims, but I had to repeat that I began my discussion by saying these surveys were done in the countries that comprise our immigration pool, and that the threat of immigration motivated the anti-Muslim sentiment about which they complained.
[. . .]
I kept returning to the transparently separate standards liberals held for traditional Christians and traditional Muslims. I pointed out, for instance, that the Kansas City Star designated a prominent liberal pastor a “drum major for justice” for his denunciation of the Christian right as “a threat far greater than the old threat of Communism.”
The fact checker confirmed that to be an exact quote. And the threat the pastor alluded had nothing to do with violence. No, what troubled him was that Christian conservatives were running for office. They were "anti-pornography," he warned, and opposed -- he noted daintily -- a woman's "having a say about what goes on in her own body."
Had he said something half as outrageous about Muslims, he would have lost his pulpit, if not his head. Focusing his spite on Christians, however, got his speech excerpted in the New York Times and won him the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award.
[. . .]
“There is an element of disingenuousness about this conversation tonight,” I replied. I pointed out that there are millions of Muslims who subscribed to ISIS or who supported ISIS “To make believe that there is not a religious thread to this,” I concluded, “is to deceive ourselves.”
“What’s disingenuous is to blithely say there are millions,” the moderator snapped back. He then made the fatal mistake of asking for a fact check on my numbers. Said the fact checker, “Pew says 63 million Muslims support the Islamic State in the eleven Muslim countries polled.”
“That,” I said with my final words, “is a lot of Muslims.”
March 31, 2016
An Up-close Look at the Liberal-Muslim Alliance
By Jack Cashill