When Nutjobs Are Right: Two-Thirds of Republicans Think Islam is at Odds With American Values

September 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

Republicans are nutjobs. Not all of them, but a lot of them. They are people who view society as something that should not evolve or grow or make progress. They are dragged kicking and screaming into the march of progress and the betterment of society, and they do as much as possible to curb or reverse such trends. They are also people who by and large conflate their views of how government and society should be run with their personal religious convictions. What’s worse, half the time their religious convictions don’t sync up with what the Republican party actually stands for. Find me the passage in the New Testament where it says that those with the most money should have the greatest voice and the most power.

So yeah, I don’t agree with most Republicans on almost anything. There are a few things I do sometimes agree with them on, but not many. That’s why it makes me sad when I do agree with them on things that they are 100% right about for 100% the wrong reasons. ThinkProgess, a left wing site, recently published an article about a poll which revealed that approximately 2/3 Republicans and FOX News viewers believe Islam is incompatible with American values. I am neither a conservative, nor a FOX News viewer (other than occasionally, and only ironically), but I am inclined to agree with that statement. In fact, they are completely correct.

Now, before you jump all over me as being racist or some such “ist”, let me just say that I am not at all. I do believe that the respondents in that poll are all kinds of crazy and xenophobic. They hold their opinions for exactly the wrong reasons. Their response stems from a fear that has little basis. The same poll shows that the same people believe that Muslims in America are trying to establish Shari’a Law. There might be a few who do want such things, but the idea that it’s a widespread, conspiracy-like effort by American Muslims is laughable at best. What these “Republicans” don’t seem to understand is that of course Islam is incompatible with American values. Reason being, all organized religion is incompatible with American values.

Okay, first we should define what those values are. Social conservatives might argue that family is an American value. It is not. Family is a social value that crosses into all cultures. In fact, Muslims love family so much that to bring dishonour upon one’s family is one of the worst sins imaginable and is punishable by death. By the way, the same is true of Christianity and Judaism. American values, to my mind, are quite simple. Liberalism, in the classical sense of the word is key. The right for people to what they want so long as they aren’t bothering other people or causing them suffering is what America stands for. Going along with that, it is the responsibility of the people to come together through the democratic process in order to make sure that standard of liberalism continues and can be protected. Everything else stems from that. Free speech? That’s an American value that stems from liberalism. Limited free market economics? That’s liberalism. The dream of having a white picket fence, a wife, two-and-a-half kids and a dog? That’s liberalism. Even the American justice system, one which holds paramount the rights of the accused as equal to the accuser? That’s liberalism.

Want to know what doesn’t play nice with liberalism? Religion. Sure, Jesus spoke about helping people and being good and the golden rule. The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most beautiful, humanist, liberal pieces of writing ever. But then there’s everything else. Religion attempts to get people to do what it wants. It gives people rules which they must follow. And not simply rules made to protect the order of a reasonable society. The rules of religion tell people what they can and cannot do, who and what they should obey, what they can and cannot think. Worse yet, religion gets people to try and force their believes and way of life on others; it makes people want to force others to do as they say. So much for liberalism. So much for good old American values.

Sure, Islam doesn’t fit with American values (or the values of any free society, really), but neither does Christianity, the dominant religion in America. The reason the framers of the constitution sought to create that famous “wall” between church and state is because they recognized that incompatibility. They realized that any good liberal society should not interfere with the right of people to say, do and believe what they want, including the practice of religion in a peaceful manner. They also realized that religion becoming a part of the governmental operation of the country would be inherently at odds with maintaining that freedom, that liberalism. They understood that religion, be it Islam or Christianity, is not actually compatible with those values that would come to be recognized as truly “American”.

The Republicans who responded to that poll are nutjobs. They are the people who would take America in the wrong directions in all sorts of ways. They are often racist and homophobic, and they are certainly xenophobic. Nobody should really listen to what they have to say because they arrive at their opinions without reason or any careful consideration. Even when they are right, as they are in this one case, they are right for the wrong reasons. But they are also still right. It seems silly to me that in the name of religious and cultural tolerance we should think all religion is good and peaceful or that to claim that any religion is incompatible with the values of a civilized and free society should be immediately dismissed as crock. It is not crock. Read the passages in the Bible or the Quran about the keeping of slaves, the killing of homosexuals, the repression of sexuality, the subjugation of women and the right of believers to slay the non-believers and the infidels. Read those passages and then try to tell me that somehow Islam or any major organized religion is compatible with American values.


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