Sunday, April 20, 2008

Responses to comments from a conservative reader (Part 1 or 2)

For those of you who do not follow the Civil Religion Blog where I post on Islam, some of the comments from a very conservative reader warranted lengthy responses from me. I will post the comments and my response here (split as 2 postings). If you like to make a comment, please put it on the PD site for everyone's benefit.

Dr. Hamid, I have another question. You spoke a lot about the First Amendment, freedom of speech. I am very disturbed lately with CAIR trying to silence voices that they say spread Muslim hatred. However, in this country we are supposed to have freedom of expression, yet CAIR doesn’t seem to agree. As far as I can tell, what these people are saying is an honest assessment. I find this extremely disturbing. Again, if they don’t like it here in America, perhaps even if they are Americans, why don’t they move to the Middle East where they won’t have to tolerate so-called hate speech.

As a Christian Catholic, we are attacked on a regular basis not only in the main stream media,
but also by such wonderful people as Bill Maher on HBO. As much as he makes me puke with his religious hate speech, as an American I understand that he has the right to mock my religion and I have the freedom to choose not to listen to him. If enough people agree, HBO will cancel his show. If not, then so be it. I don’t care what he says.

The Post-Dispatch regularly attacks the local leader of my faith, Archbishop Burke. They would never speak about Muslim leaders like they do about him. Most of us Catholics just take it all in stride. Many that have more character than I, just refuse to purchase the PD. That’s just the way America works.

Comment by A CENTRIST -- April 19th, 2008 at 1:13 pm
And here is my response:

A Centrist:
I will not debate every article, book and person that does not like Islam or does not understand it, and expresses it in the vast cyberspace,. You need to do you homework studying Islam if you care to know anything about it. I do suggest a very reasonable translation of the Quran with great commentary by M Asad called the Message of the Quran ( It is your choice whether to seek understanding Islam better or, alternatively, to select what reinforces some other held beliefs about Islam if you think you already know the truth.
I have come against Muslims and atheists who hold opinions about your own religion (Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular) that are similar to your attitude towards Islam. None of them made any effort to understand Christianity from neutral sources or from its original scripture before agreeing with every thing negative they hear about it. I hope you are better than they were.
There position was “Christianity is a horrible religion and nothing can change that because is the a fact. Period”. Think about it for a second from their point of view: Crusades, Protestant vs. Catholic massacres, intra-European wars, colonization of the Africa, Asia, the New World, near extermination of aborigines in many places, largest scale of slave trade in history, apartheid and racial segregation states not to mention two World Wars (and possibly a third if some of our current leadership have it their way) Not to mention IRA in northern Ireland, ETA in Spain, or Genocide in Rwanda (with the recent conviction of catholic clergy in genocide by the courts there).
Actually, even Nazi regime still counts as Christian for some people, I will leave it up to you to find their arguments and judge how valid it is about the Church and Papacy complicity with the Axis forces in WWII.
The links between Racism in the south of USA and in apartheid South Africa on one hand, and the Church on the other hand, (at least some churches) mount, in some people’s minds, to a solid historic proof that Christianity - in the core - supported those horrible regimes.
Of course I can tag along Serb and Croat atrocities in Bosnia, Army of God in central African nations, Lebanese Phalangist Christian massacres in Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps , etc. Before accusing me of being selective, I will tell you I am being selective, so you can see how bad your religion would look like if one wishes to be selective.
What to you is defined as a religion of love and peace is to others a religion of hegemony and White domination.
I do NOT subscribe to such opinion; neither does 99% of my Muslim community. Most of us understand that religion is one of many factors that shape history and politics. And when it does, is it a minor factor, dominated by economy, human greed and human desire for a sense supremacy material and moral, even if it is a fake one.
I happened to agree that Christianity is a religion of love and peace, NOT because you said it, but because I did my home work learning about it, not from Hagee, Falwell, Paterson Jim Crow law or from the opinions of the abundant zealots. I learned it from original scripture (in proper historic context) and from Christian friends and non-friends that I see around me every day.
Can you count 5 or 10 Muslims you know personally? If you can, have you tried to reach out and talk to them? Not to preach them, or convert them but to KNOW them?
And just to cover of the points you raise:
- CAIR is not against the first amendment, the same way Anti Defamation League is not against it. But, this is country where there are laws against hate, libel and slander.
Asking the courts of law to assess whether these laws apply in certain situations is NOT restriction of the freedom of expression.
- If someone accuses you in public of being a child molester because you are Catholic, do you consider that as actionable slander? If a school near you refuses your participation in their activities because you are Catholic, and they are worried about their children, what would you do?
- You mention that your friends ‘who have character more than you’ (in you own words, not mine) boycott the PD for its criticism of the local Catholic leadership. CAIR public campaign against Michael Savage and his hate speech got many decent people to boycott him and not advertise on his show. That is NOT violation of the first amendment. It is actually an exercise in it (the freedom of assembly part), by recruiting people with the same sense of decency to stop something that is indecent simply by not funding it with ad money. And, let me quote you verbatim again: “ that’s just the way America works”.

Comment by Khaled Hamid -- April 20th, 2008 at 5:45 pm

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