I don’t think bashing Eteraz is a good idea. He’s not the enemy, and using him as a convenient stand-in for the enemy serves no useful purpose at all. It’s important to remember that Eteraz represents the kind of Islam we would like to see in the world. If all Muslims were like Eteraz, we wouldn’t have this war, and most of us kaffirs wouldn’t be paying any attention to Islam at all.
To those who enjoin Eteraz to get a thicker skin: you wouldn’t believe what a thick skin he has already. A rhinoceros has nothing on him. Go visit his blog, or the other places where he comments, and observe the spite and vituperation and just plain nastiness directed at him, much of it from his fellow Muslims. They make Gates of Vienna commenters look like cute li’l puppies in comparison.
But I do have substantive issues with Eteraz, and we argue by email sometimes. Yesterday he wrote me about his objections to the guest-posted verse, and said this:
Its almost like you are pandering to people like [one of the critical commenters]. I didn’t imagine you to be one to pander.
Even some of your other statements have become increasingly anti-Islam at large and not Islam in its extremist manifestation.
He’s got a good point there. I’ve caught quite a bit of flak for this, and not just from Eteraz.
The brutality of our Islamist enemies and my frustration at the fools who would appease them have caused me to lash out at the religion itself. Sometimes Islam does seem unredeemable, but that’s not what I want to assert in this forum.
When I replied to Eteraz I said this:
Unfortunately, millions of people say they want to destroy Israel (and America) because of their faith in Allah, their Islamic faith.
I would not be engaging in mockery if the Danish cartoon incident had not come along, if many, many Muslims had not said that they want to kill people who mock the Prophet.
Mockery is a weapon of choice. It helps us, the people who are not Muslims, to create solidarity against Islamofascists, and against the cowardly appeasers who want to accommodate their totalitarian demands.
As a by-product, it hurts people like you, and that’s unfortunate, and I sincerely regret it.
I also will regret it if, at the airport, they start vigorously searching people who look like you, or who have Urdu-sounding names like yours, or have a birthplace in Pakistan like yours listed on their passport. I hate the fact that such things may have to happen to you. But I think they are a necessary step, part of our self-defense.
I hope that you don’t ever end up worshipping in a mosque where Islamists are storing explosives. I hope you don’t visit friends who — unbeknownst to you — have allowed extremists to hide rocket launchers in their back yard. Because you might end up dead as a result. But that doesn’t mean our pilots are choosing their targets incorrectly.
Because of what’s happening, it may eventually become dangerous to be a Muslim in this country. But it’s dangerous right now to be a Christian in Pakistan. Or a Jew anywhere, for that matter.
If 9/11 had never happened, I never would have mocked Islam. But our enemies have decided to fight a religious war, and I have chosen sides in it.
This means that I want to demonstrate that I do not stand with those whose faith is so bizarre, so primitive, and so intolerant that they would cut off the heads of those who do not share it.
I do not lump you in with those people. But, unfortunately, you and they have in common a book of scripture, one which plays an integral part of this ongoing war. Alas, here’s no way to avoid the result…
It’s a broad brush we’re using here, and probably tars quite a lot of folks who don’t deserve it. But how many of them are there? That’s an important question, and one that’s hard to answer. Some of our regular readers believe there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim, and that all them must be converted or exterminated.
I’m not one of those, as I have said repeatedly. But it’s disturbing and disheartening that the voice of moderate Islam is so consistently muted, if not mute.
In his email to me, as an example of a moderate and non-humor-impaired Muslim, Eteraz cited Salman Rushdie. But what kind of example is that? Rushdie is a secular Muslim, and basically an apostate. We all saw what his “moderation” cost him. No wonder the moderates are so quiet.
That’s a large part of the problem. If the extremists, the Islamists, are so intolerant of moderation in Islam that they will attempt to kill those who practice it, and if they are at least 10% of the Muslim population, then they will be able to destroy moderation within Islam unless those Muslims of a moderate temperament organize to defend themselves against such violent intimidation.
Eteraz wrote me another note later on. He said, in part:
You are living under the assumption that the IF’s [Islamofascists] are coming after us. They are. 9/11 was an example of it.
However, the IF’s live under the assumption that the US is coming after the Muslim world. To them, our bases in Saudi; our funding of tyrannical regimes (Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi), are examples of our “attack.”
Both sides are acting and reacting fearing each other’s attack-mongering. You want to ridicule and mock all Muslims because you fear the plans of some Muslims. The extremists want to ridicule and mock all Christians and Jews because they fear the plans of some Christians and some Jews. Each group says: “we who are not the other, want to create solidarity amongst ourselves and mocking the other helps us do that.” I’m rather disappointed by your response.
Unfortunately, my reply to him has disappeared somewhere in the belly of our dysfunctional email service. However, when I responded to him I said something like this:
Eteraz, you are creating a false equivalence, and I don’t buy it. The mockery of Islam by non-Muslims is not equivalent to terrorist attacks on Christians and Jews.
The equivalent would be for Muslims to mock Christians and make fun of Jesus. That OK; it doesn’t bother me at all. I hope they go ahead and mock!
If that were all that were happening, the Twin Towers would still be standing, none of this would be an issue, and I would never have taken up blogging.
We started this blog because thousands of people were killed, are being killed, and will be killed, all in the name of Allah. Every day.
There is no equivalent to this kind of behavior among non-Muslims. None whatsoever.
There are no instances of Christian or Jewish groups behaving like the thousands of Hizbullah cadres in the streets of Beirut who give the Nazi salute and scream “Death to Israel!”
It’s unfortunate, but there’s no way around it: The relationship between Islam and other religions is not symmetrical.
That’s part of the problem.
But I think it’s a good idea to pander to Eteraz and people like him, to coax them up out of the foxholes they’re hiding in. They’re hiding for a good reason, if Salman Rushdie is any example.
Yesterday’s post was offensive; there’s no doubt about it. I’m going to lay off the insulting frivolities for a while and deal with what’s important.
And here’s what’s important: Islam has a bomb in its turban.
Its other clothes, its shoes, its pants, and its shirt are all normal. But there’s a bomb in the turban, and the fuse is lit.
One of these days it’s going to take the head off, and do a lot of damage to everyone who happens to be nearby.