Updated: Sep 14
See Andy? I can build a straw man, too.
I’d like you to meet Andy Brown, atheists. Andy wrote a piece in the Guardian that I think you all might want to read. It’s called:
Andrew, with his apparently mediocre intellect, decided he was going to pursue the same tired argument that anyone who thinks the doctrines of Islam are evil, must therefore hate Muslims and that’s all there is to it because he said so. Perhaps it was divine revelation that led Andrew to know how I feel, someone he’s never met, nor spoken to, and who has likely loved 100% more Muslims, personally and intimately than he has.
It is really difficult and indeed psychologically unnatural to claim that you hate an ideology without hating the people in whose lives it is expressed.
I’m going to tell you a little story now, Andy. Strap on your helmet, and grab your sippy cup.
My mom is awesome. I know everyone says this about their mom, but my mom is really awesome. She’s done some incredible things in her life, including drawing a boy who suffered from Asperger’s out of a severe and crippling social anxiety. She was written up in a two page spread in the Vancouver Sun after they discovered he couldn’t read or write before he entered her classroom and by the end of the year he’d begun writing a novel. They also discovered he was friends with everyone in the class. They poured praise on her, crediting her with the fact he was about to graduate BCIT and let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more proud. My mom is someone special. My mom has doted on me since the day I was born. She listens to me, she truly hears me and always has, even when I was a child. My mom is so wonderful that my friends, who practically lived at my house, called her 'mom', too. She filled her home in Vancouver with foreign students, all of whom still send her messages on her birthday and mother’s day. She is constantly giving, is rarely taking and just wants to help everyone, all the time and I cannot express to you how very much I love my wonderful mommy.
But she’s an advocate for alternative and holistic approaches to medicine. She believes colloidal silver can cure cancer. She thinks the streaks in the sky are chemtrails to keep us all sick. She believes, despite the fact that our life expectancy goes up by forty days every year, that there is a global conspiracy between scientists, pharmaceutical companies and medical practitioners to keep us all sick. I can count the things she is willing to eat on one hand. She thinks vaccines cause autism, and that there is nothing that cannot be fixed with apple cider vinegar.
I believe that the things she believes are horribly wrong, dangerous and scary. But you know what, Andy? I still fucking love her with everything I’ve got.
Now, how does this work, Andy? How does this fit into your neat little hypothesis? That if ideas and beliefs terrify us, we must then fear the believer. How does that work, Andy, when it comes to my mom? Would you suggest that I do not, in fact, love my mom, Andy? Is that where you want to plant your flag?
I fear the actions that my mom’s beliefs may lead her to take. Especially as she and my father experience more ailments with age. I worry that one or both of them may not get the medical attention they require for serious health problems all because my mom doesn’t trust the doc. I worry about this every day.
I feel the very same way when I think about the doctrine of Islam (or Christianity for that matter). I worry that people who hold the heinous ideas dear may use them to hurt other people. It’s not as though this worry is unfounded, Andy. We need only go back two weeks to see the headlines of the last secular blogger who was hacked to death in the streets of Bangladesh, and a few days before that for the one before him… all because the Quran calls for the death of unbelievers:
“They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” – Quran, 4:89
And slay them wherever you find them. Slay them, Andy. Slay. This, to you, is not evil? A book full of ideas that 1.6 billion people the world over don’t just revere but pray to five times per day, calls for my murder and the murder of my mom, my dad, my brother, my husband, etc. A call to action that is not only written in their book but clearly acted on, with hundreds of recent examples. This is not evil to you, Andy? To be clear?
I am scared that these ideas can spread, that people can be just as easily misinformed as they are informed in the information age. I am scared more people, Muslims included, will be harmed because someone takes the word of the Quran too literally. I don’t like the ideas they live by, much like I don’t like the ideas my mom lives by, but that doesn’t stop my deep concern for them. It certainly didn’t stop me from falling in love with a Muslim man. Yes, Andy, I know. That is such a hateful thing to do.
Mr. Brown goes on to assert the tired old quote from Sam Harris, taken out of context, is proof of his (and therefore our) hatred of Muslims:
Stalin and Mao would have enthusiastically endorsed Sam Harris when he wrote that “there are some beliefs so terrible that we are justified in killing people just for holding them”
The problem, Andy, is that this quote has been stripped of its context, and I think you know that.
What Sam actually said was,
“There are some beliefs so terrible that we are justified in killing people just for holding them. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others . If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense.”
Andy, you’re deeply mistaken when you assert, with no evidence, that one must hate the people if they hate the idea. This is a simplistic, romper room way of looking at the world, dismissing the details and whitewashing everyone who finds particular ideas distasteful and calling them bigots, racists and haters.
It’s a little more nuanced than that, precious Andy. Do you suppose the loved ones of the deceased at Jonestown stopped loving their family members simply because they literally “drank the Kool-Aid”? No, Andy. I think you’re smart enough to know, that people can be disgusted by an idea, but still love dearly the person who holds it.
As someone who is critical of Islam and finds it to be an anti-human doctrine full of questionable ideas, I care deeply for Muslims. After all, they’re the ones who are most affected by the violence and discrimination promoted by their holy book. They are, more often than not, the victims of Islamic extremism. I don’t want this for them, whether they are gay, questioning their faith or just your average Muslim believer. I don’t want this for them and that is why I question the horrible ideas they hold so dear. Ideas which have, unless you’ve been hiding under your bed your whole life, Andy, led to many lost lives, including those of many, many countless Muslims.
I do not hate Muslims. I love them because I love humanity. That’s why it is my duty to speak up about ideas that endanger them. Shame for them you don’t feel the same, Andy. Perhaps it’s you who hate them, after all.