Terrorism: Islam vs Christianity

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I don't doubt others experiences. But here's mine. (Sorry, long winded -- but you dove into a complex subject).

My Dad is a Muslim (Sufi), I'm an atheist that was raised between catholic and christian. (I'm no expert on Islam, but I have a familiarity with it more than most non Muslim Americans. The same with the middle east: more than most, other than those who directly immigrated or both parents did).

  1. Islam as a religion, and the middle east as a culture, are (as a generalization) more tribalistic than Western (or Eastern) religions.
  2. All 1st gen cultures pool (and exclude). Create pockets of "us". This is magnified in Muslim/Islamic cultures because of differences in language, culture, religion, modesty, taboos, and so on. That makes their ability to blend less, which creates more friction from immigration on both sides.
  3. Many muslims would love to create Sharia law, and force it (and Islam) on everyone else. It is not as morally wrong, or culturally inappropriate to force others to do what you want. (And that's compared to collectivist Europeans. Compared to Libertarian Americans, they're worse).
  4. As a group, middle eastern mulsims are far more tolerant of their sides atrocities than the other sides minor slights. It's a cultural thing, having to do with being tribalistic for so long... it's not inherent in the religion, other than the religion was founded by folks that thought that way. But in the end, their culture is highly tribal and bigoted.

So never forget that many 1st generation, devout/strict Muslims of middle eastern descent, would have far less problems with oppression of your beliefs, than you have of theirs. Even if they know how to smile and lie to the gullible westerner. And a small percentage of them, can take this to extremes and justify violent acts towards that end (as we've seen the world over). The problem with cultural narcissism, is many naively believe that we are all alike. We are in many things... but we are quite different in others.

If America was founded on Muslim values, there would only be one religion allowed, you wouldn't have a first amendment -- and many of the other bill of rights would apply only to muslims. You can look at almost every Muslim controlled country (in the middle east), and see this. So Christians (and some Jews) feel threatened, for somewhat legitimate reasons. The fears of their differences aren't ALL irrational; they are just out of proportion with the risk. (As it always is with the unknown).

But "many" is not all (I'm not sure it's most, it depends on the polls/issue). And you get less of this in non middle eastern Muslims (so it's not religion as much as religion+culture). And the pool that comes here, is self filtering for fewer of "those" than live "over there". AND after being here a while, if not the parents, at least the kids adapt. So it will get better with time.

Broad Brushing

So the problem is both sides broad brush. But letting in large swaths of Muslims (even refugees), will get more criminals and terrorists, and it will change and divide our culture. There's a rate we can absorb "foreign", and that's dependent on how foreign and how many (and how much they pool). Chinese had a harder time than Europeans, because they were more foreign. But Islam, and middle-eastern islam, is more foreign still. That's not malice, or justifying bigotry, it just is what it is. Denying it is foolish.

The right knows and admits this. The left denies it. Then the right overstates the problem (in reaction the lefts denial of it), and the left reacts to that as bigotry, and the right reacts to that as stupidity. And so on. But there's degrees of wrong on both.

If the left could admit that this is a real problem, and that vetting IS inadequate, and not everyone that wants to filter for class/income/values is a racist, and that we need to take refugees at a rate that will let them integrate with society (instead of just create enclaves like in Europe). I think we could make more progress. And I agree that some folks overly broad-brush all "Muslims as bad", which is exactly as dumb to me as denying there's a real problem with the middle east exporting terror, or their cultural beliefs are a threat to our liberty. OK, maybe a little less dumb, since being paranoid keeps people alive, being naive results in genocide and war.

So while I'm not a fan of either extremes, for me, the left (not everyone, but enough to shut down conversation) accusing anyone who violates their code of political correctness of being racist/bigot/etc., is the root problem. It not only shuts down conversation, or gets the other side to dig in and exaggerate every problem (for sake of their own confirmation bias), but it is exactly the kind of myopic tribalism that they attack the other side for. If they had the tolerance towards the right, that they demand the right have towards their view or muslims, etc., then they would be sensitive and not calling everyone racists in the first place. So I tell both sides, lead by example.

The left (generally) values conformity. So their attacks are meant to force others to say, "Oh, I'm sorry" in order to come back in the fold. But the right more values individuality, and resistance to forced conformity. So the lefts attacks on the right (for something the right knows is fundamentally true), only drives the right away and into more radical groups or to say MORE extreme things in retaliation for denial. The old, "Fine, you say I'm a white supremacist, maybe I'll act more like one, or talk to them, since it pisses you off, and you're unreasonable". And if the nationalists aren't as extreme as the media paints them (and no one is), or they're more reasonable than those that deny there's any problems at all (and I suspect they are), that may fluff up their roles over time. <- again. If there's a resurgence, I suspect it'll be in retaliation to the left's actions. If the left was as tolerant as they claim, there would be no purchase for the other side's animus.


So I don't know your experiences, only my own.

When I talk to right wingers, and admit there might be some points to their side -- just that folks like Trump or some of his supporters overstate it non-helpful ways, and there are many good Muslims, and so on... 80%+ of the time, I get some concessions. "Yeah, maybe it's not all of them, and there are good Muslims", "Yeah, maybe overstating and broadbrushing isn't helpful"... and so on.

When I talk to left wingers (especially in the bay area), and I point out something that's not quite to the extreme that their side is pretending (there's some justification for the fears, etc), about 80%+ of the time, I get called a racist/bigot, Trump supporter, FauxNews watcher and so on. (Again, it's not 80% of the people, but it is 80% of the time, there will be at least one that jumps in and loses their nut, and shuts down the discussion).

In the end, "Bigot" has lost it's power on the right -- because the left/media has been using it like a tourettes victim, shouting it at anyone who disagrees with them over anything. In order to re-empower the word, we need to stop using it as much, as start using it far more precisely.

You can choose to stop talking to people who are sloppy with their political correctness. But that will likely just polarize you and them against each other (and their views) even more. Or both sides could pause and try to understand what the other side is really saying and why. If don't do that, we are going to eventually succeed at tearing this nation apart

Of course there's no one truth.... there's stories like what the Albanian Mulsims did to protect the Jews in WWII Germany, and it goes to show that there's good people in every religion. Though in this case, I think their motivation was more cultural than religious. But either way, they took the moral high ground and deserve to be credited for that. I just wish that would happen more often.


📚 References

Moderate Muslims:

Germany urging Jews not to wear their caps, for fear of assaults (which shows the abject failure of Germany authorities and policies):

Islam : Armenian GenocideImmigrationIraq is because of Israel-PalestineIslam: A Short HistoryIslamic PhrasesIslamic TerrorismMemes-IslamMuslim tribalism means they'll never do democracyOmar MateenRadical Islamic TerrorismSan Bernardino: Mass Shooting Recap