Saturday, May 21, 2016

What's the Difference?

NBC News reports that on his death bed former Senator Robert Bennett told his son that he desired to apologize to any Muslims who might be in the vicinity for the "anti-Muslim" rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump has been roundly criticized for voicing an opinion, probably shared by many, actually, that not vetting Muslim refugees before allowing them into the country is foolish. The president took an oblique slap at Trump when he declared in a rcent graduation speech that voicing serious concerns about Muslim immigration is "not who we are."

Well, yes and no.

Surely we should not hate Muslims. Surely we should help those who are suffering from the Syrian civil war (although it would be nice if the Obama administration showed as much concern for Syrian Christians who are the object of ISIS's genocidal cruelty as he does Syrian Muslims), and yet .... and I know someone whose reading comprehension languishes at elementary school levels is going to accuse me of hatefulness and bigotry here .... it must be said that there's an awful lot of twaddle being circulated about this issue.

Let's do a thought experiment: Suppose a liberal progressive, someone who is appalled by Trump's "Islamophobic" rhetoric, were to learn that hundreds of thousands of members of some white supremicist group, say, the Ku Klux Klan, were being imported into the country, and that many would be resettled in that liberal's community. Would he or she not find this to be at least a little unsettling? Would anyone think it scandalously bigoted to express anxiety that bigots, abetted by the government, were going to be populating one's schools and neighborhoods? Would anyone think it hateful if someone voiced reservations about KKKers moving in next door?

Probably not. In fact, our newspapers would doubtless be running editorials condemning the beliefs of the KKKers and saying things like "their beliefs have no place in our community," and "people like this aren't who we are." They certainly wouldn't be lecturing us on how we should accept the Klan with open arms and embrace the new arrivals in the name of cultural diversity.

And yet - tell me what I'm missing - I'm hard-pressed to find much significant difference between the beliefs of the average Klan member, at least one of whom I've known personally, and the average devout Muslim, several of whom I've known personally.

Both tend to be xenophobic, they're both often anti-semitic, they both reject belief in human equality, and they both consider homosexuality to be a contemptible perversion. Let us grant that neither the average Klansman nor the average devout Muslim would perpetrate violence on those with whom they disagree, yet probably neither would be terribly outraged if someone else did.

In fact, the average devout Muslim holds views that most liberals find much more offensive than they do the views of the average Klan member. Many pious Muslims, for example, are extremely patriarchal, treating women as second class human beings. They think homosexuals should be executed, and are scornful of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the concept of the separation of church and state.

This is not just how radical extremists think, it's how many mainstream Muslims view the world as Muslims themselves are happy to acknowledge:
So, my question to my liberal friends is this: If profound concern over a policy that would increase the presence of white supremicists in one's community is understandable and proper, why is concern over a policy that increases the presence of devout Muslims an unconscionable manifestation of bigotry for which we should apologize? What's the salient difference? Help me out here.