How an American audience reacted to hearing the truth about Islam
I recently attended a presentation at a local church on the origins of Islam and the Crusades. The speaker was a historian. The talk was not a polemic, but merely an attempt to educate people about these topics.
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About 30 people showed up for the talk. He told them the basics about how Islam began and did not whitewash anything. He included horrific stories about the life of Muhammed, such as how he massacred the men of the Qurayza tribe and sold their wives and children into slavery. He talked at length about the conquests, pointing out that jihad (as in war, not just struggle against sin) is central to Islam and no Muslim who is true to his faith can deny that. He also gave a good introduction to the Crusades. He did not whitewash them either, although he did contrast the ideals behind the Crusades with the ideals behind Jihad.
The question and answer session after the talk lasted over an hour, and every question was about Islam, not the Crusades. The remarkable thing was that about half of the people who asked questions were so brainwashed they couldn’t understand what the speaker was saying about Islam, Muhammed and jihad. After a lengthy talk in which he explained very thoroughly that violence and oppression have been essential to Islam since its founding, he got questions like:
“How can we encourage the true Muslims who are faithful to the Koran?”
The historian explained why fidelity to the Koran was not something we wanted to encourage, and it obviously didn’t sink in because the man’s next question was:
“Do you know the names of any Muslims in public life who are really sticking up for the original teachings of Islam, people who are willing to stand up against the terrorists and say “This is not our religion”?”
In response to an explanation of Sunnis and Shiites in which the speaker noted that Sunnis make up about 90 percent of Muslims, he got the question:
“So the Sunnis are more peaceful, right?” He gave a long answer that amounted to “not necessarily.”
The speaker said a bit about Ahmadinejad and the Hidden Imam, but noted that only Shiites believe in this and they only make up about 10 percent of Muslims. Question:
“As you said, 90 percent of Muslims are committed to peace. Why do we only hear from the 10 percent who believe in violence?”
The speaker kept returning to the point that Muhammed is supposed to be a role model for Muslims, and as we heard in the talk, his life was one of unrepentant murder and lust for power. That presents a problem.
A woman in the audience noted that she had relatives who were Muslims and they were horrified by the Sept. 11th attacks. She said they had told her “those people were not Muslims.” She offered this as a way of demonstrating that Islam itself was not the problem. (I know good people who are Muslims too. It’s a world religion and millions of people are born into it. Those of them who are virtuous will focus on the aspects of their religion that encourage virtue. But anyone who really wants to follow Islam perfectly and emulate its founder has to embrace those violent aspects.)
Another woman asked whether Muslims who commit acts of violence are comparable to Christians who bomb abortion clinics. It was an honest question and she accepted the answer (which was, basically, “no.”)
Most (not all, but most) of the audience was operating on the assumption that Islam parallels Christianity in that the founder and his original teaching were above reproach, while sins committed by believers are a departure from the original ideal. No matter how many times the speaker explained that those sins are part and parcel of the original Islamic ideal, some people never understood.
As the question and answer session progressed, a sort of chill came over the room as it became apparent that the speaker was not going to confirm their belief that Islam is basically OK. The questions began to take on a pleading quality, as if the real question on everyone’s mind was “Please tell us that true Islam encourages peace … pleeeease?” Some people never got the message. Those who did seemed disappointed. Many people complimented the speaker on his talk afterwards, but they also looked deflated, as if they were very sad to have to face the fact that there is more evil in the world than they had thought.
With regard to those who didn’t get the speaker’s message, I wondered, what is behind this inability to accept the truth about Islam? Is it fear? Or simply a lack of critical thinking skills?
Gintas J. writes:
On the other hand, at my church we had a local convert to Christianity from Islam speak three or four years ago, and he was very well received. He has written some papers (just for informal dissemination), and explained how he had to do it under a pseudonym because there is a judgment of death on his head. I think if people take their Christianity seriously, they take Islam—and its status as enemy of Christ—seriously as well.
If the audience is basically liberal then you might find Dorothy Sayers’ quote applicable:
“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”
Does that not cut to the essence of liberal cowardice?
Alan M. writes:
My take, from personal experience, is that people do not want to hear the truth about Islam because of the implications of their believing it:
- They have to accept that the world is a dangerous place and that there is an existential threat to their warm, comfortable civilization;
- This knowledge requires them to make unpleasant decisions;
- They have to be intolerant of a belief system (tolerance being central to their personal identity)
- Ultimately, it completely changes their view of the world with that change being a required one… it is much easier to just pretend everything will be ok;
- There are no short term consequences for not facing reality.
A reader writes:
My aged mother, a New York liberal if ever there was one, said about ten years ago, “If you don’t believe in progress, there’s no point in being alive.” The progress to which she was referring was the success of some impossible social engineering project which was conspicuously failing.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 07, 2007 11:25 AM | Send
I thought of this incident when I read the article about the American audience’s response to learning about Islam. The audience is not interested in Islam, except as the recipient of their liberal compassion and inclusiveness.
If you see Islam for what it is, it is impossible to include it or its practitioners into the “It’s a Small World After All” Disney ride that is American foreign and immigration policy. If you don’t want to go on the ride, it means you are a bad person. At the utmost extreme, it means you should die, or want to die.