Saturday, 22 September 2012

"The innocence of White People"

Even this picture, which fronts Knight's article, gainsays his point, that
there is nothing in Islam that's not replicated in other religions.
In fact, of course, there is: violence.
I came across this article by one Michael Muhammad Knight, who was a guest on BBC radio that I listen to here in Hong Kong.
He's a convert to Islam, and that always gets me wondering.  How could you read the core documents of Islam, the Trinity of the Koran, Hadith and Sirah, and convert?  I mean, it's like the only document in Christianity was the Old Testament (not the New), and it was made clear that you could not question it and that you had to abide by it fully:  stonings, crucifixions and all; and you said "yup, that's the religion for me".  I don't get it.
This fellow Muhammad Knight is a charlatan and a dope.
Below are my comments on his article.

So I’ve just received an email from a reader, asking whether I might have something to say about The Innocence of Muslims. “Is tolerance for satire really a concept that is not compatible with Islam?” he asks. “Is there something about all this indignation that ‘we,’ the West, don’t understand?”
When asked to explain Muslim rage, I have an answer, but I already know the response to my answer. A defender of “Western civilization” will tell me, “Yeah, but we aren’t violent. They’re the ones who kill people over religion.” If numbers matter, however, the mythology of “America” kills many, many more people today than any myth of “Islam.” To sustain a pseudo-secular military cult, we have produced a nation of cheerleaders for blood and murder. We speak of the cult’s heroic work as “sacrifice” and say that it’s all for a divine cause of “freedom.”
Moral equivalence.  There is no equivalence between people killed in a war and the deliberate killing of innocents in terrorist acts. 
That’s what we send out there, at them. This is not simply a world in which one side has a sense of humor and the other does not, or one side is “modern” and “enlightened” while the other side needs to catch up. The modern, enlightened side is burning people alive. Innocence is simply the playground bully calling your mother a slut after already breaking your jaw, and then wondering why you can’t take a joke.
I am not trying to excuse violence. As an artist, I support everyone’s right to make shitty, cheap-looking art, and I do not believe that bloodshed is ever an acceptable way of responding to art. But in the big picture, this isn’t really about violent religion vs. nonviolent art; it’s violence vs. violence.
“Violence” of a cartoon? Or video?  Vs killing people?
Last week, the day on which my column runs happened to fall on September 11. My column was not about September 11; I offered no recollections of the day, no meditation on where we’ve gone as a nation since then, no diagnosis, no hope for a better future, and no apology on behalf of “moderate” Muslims. Instead, I wrote about drugs. It seems that every year, the anniversary produces a number of Muslim bloggers and commentators publicly performing our love of peace, assuring everyone that we, too, shared in the suffering of that day. I am thankful for them and respect their efforts, because this is work that needs to be done.  But I did not try.
The reason for my silence on 9/11 is that I am not only Muslim. I am also American. I am also white. I am male and heterosexual. However, I am not asked, as an American, to reflect on the yearly anniversary of our atomic bombs falling upon Japan, or our countless military interventions throughout the world.
The bombs helped stop a war. And in any case, the rights and wrongs of that are often discussed in the US and the west.  Unlike the outrages of indiscriminate killing of innocents by Muslims.
There is no date on the calendar for me, as a white person, to demonstrate that I have properly reflected on slavery and the generations of inequality and naked white sadism between the slave era and our own unjust present; we could potentially have such a day, but often turn it into shallow self-congratulation ….
Slavery again.  It was from the Muslim world that America got its slaves. And it was in the west, first from the UK, that the moves to stop slavery started. Unlike in the Muslim world where it still exits.
.As a white person, I am not asked to consider the wanton murders of young black men by white cops…
There are many studies that show there is no bias in the US police of white cops “wantonly” killing black men.  For example, the whole issue of “driving while black” is a furphy.
 … or white civilians, or the white terrorism of shootings in gurudwaras, as directly relevant to my identity. Nor do I have a designated anniversary for reflection, as a straight man, on the horrifying statistics of rape or the ways in which heterosexism makes this country unsafe for so many.
Again, shocking moral equivalence.  The US and many western countries examine on a daily basis the ways in which they fall short of their ideals, including in the incidence of rape.  Try being a homosexual in Iran…. vs in the US.
As a Muslim, however, people do expect me to show evidence of my soul-searching over a single event, and I am regularly instructed by popular media to imagine 9/11 as a cancer within my own self. Journalists ask me about Islam’s “crisis” as though it’s a private demon with whom I must personally wrestle every day; meanwhile, my whiteness remains untouched and unchallenged by the decade of hate crimes that have followed 9/11. Journalists don’t often ask whether “white tradition” can be reconciled to modern ideals of equality and pluralism, or whether the “straight male community” is capable of living peacefully in America. When it comes to my participation in America, my whiteness and maleness are far more likely than my Islam to wound others, and thus perhaps more urgently in need of “reform” or “enlightenment” or whatever you say that Islam needs. Again, this is only if numbers matter.
Wrong. Contrary to Knight’s assertion these issues are the subject of daily debate in the US, and do not elicit murderous responses.
Yes, there’s something that we, the self-identified “West,” don’t understand: ourselves. We see the violence that we want to see. We ignore our legacy of hatred and destruction, always wondering how they can even look themselves in the mirror.
Wrong again.  We absolutely do not “ignore our legacy”.  It is constantly debated and analysed in the press, in academe, in daily talk. Indeed, this very article is part of that.  By contrast, Islam is incapable of self-reflection, a point made much better than me by Christopher Hitchens.
Later: Here is Hitchens in wonderful late-life flow.