If it is it doesn't matter

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Where are my fellow liberals?

I have been a liberal my entire life, for good reason. I am an atheist, bisexual, a believer in free speech, a believer in civil rights, a believer in the right to dissent, a believer in due process, etc. I grew up during the McCarthy era, and the later era of the John Birch Society. I was 8 when Brown v. Board of Ed. came down. I opposed the Vietnam War -- and if that was, in a way, the 'liberal's war' it was also the liberals who turned against it. I have watched Conservatives lead the anti-evolution forces, the forces of censorship, the lies from McCarthy to Agnew to Coulter. As a historian, I have seen the actions of Conservatives against progress, against freedom, and have seen the actions of Roosevelt, of the Progressives of the 20s and Thirties, of the great Supreme Court Justices from the first Harlan through Brennan.

I am still proud to call myself a liberal. no a LIBERAL, and I still believe in the same principles. But I am getting worried. There have been two stories recently that have touched my LIBERAL (yes, sometimes bleeding) heart the strongest. The cartoon controversy, and most of all the Abdul Rahman horror. I would have expected it would be my fellow liberals that would be screaming at these violations of the freedoms we love.

Instead it is Michelle Malkin.


I just went down a list of liberal blogs, certainly not all of them, but a good group of at least twenty. I saw many pieces on Bush -- but none mentioning that it took him five days to respond to the Rahman horror. I saw tons of commentary on a Conservative writer for the Washington POST who has proven to be a plagiarist.

I saw two mentions of Rahman, one in passing, and one by a blogger who was, while admitting that the Rahman story was horrible, debating another blogger who was screaming about the vileness of the Afghani clergymen.

Yes, I am not surprised that the Christians and Conservatives are yelling at the case. Rahman is being punished for becoming a Christian. (I wonder how many would have spoken as loudly if he had announced he was an atheist. After all, several of the sites I saw had ads for a book denouncing the Dover decision.)

But, my fellow liberals, if you do not protest this, if you do not see this as an attack on freedoms you have spent your lives fighting for, if you do not -- while avoiding bigotry, avoiding screams of 'islamofascism' that lump all Muslims together -- demand the release of this man, if you are so entrapped in the misunderstanding of multi-culturalism that would accept any actuion by a group, no matter how vile, as a reflection of their culture to be protected -- would you have accepted anti-Semitism in Germany as a part of the culture, as it was -- if you are so lost as to think that this is not as much an assault on your freedom as it is on one poor man in Afghanistan...

Then I am sorry I cannot believe in a hell, so I can't picture you there, sharing the fiery lake of the "Illustrious Dunderheads" -- in Rex Stout's words -- of the 30s.


Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

Hi Jim,

In defense of liberals, I would like to submit the following exhibits:

Democracy Is Not A Cure For Ignorance

“Let Freedom Reign”

Afghan Persecution Finally Making Headlines

Duck And Cover

Now, I do agree with you that the left did not seem to know what to make of this story. If we are to believe in these lofty ideals, we must apply them uniformly and for all people. And then let the chips fall where they may. If we are always guided by political considerations than we are no better than the far right. In any case, I believe living up to one's ideals in the long run is the right political calculation.

2:47 AM  
Blogger arafat said...

Dear Jim,
I got directed to this site from a
comment somewhere on another blog. I really do respect your willingness and attempt to understand a whole range of difficult issues concerning Islam, and I wish I had the time to answer all the important questions you raise (perhaps someday).

But I thought I'd make a small remark: I believe that if you had lived in or traveled substantially in a few Muslim countries (I don't know if you have), you may have found the elusive "moderate Muslim" that you are seeking to understand.

Of course, that is NOT to dismiss any of the questions you ask, which remain pertinent and critical. That's just an observation based on my own experiences, and understanding of cultural encounters beyond the theoretical.

Also, I strongly recommend that you read some of the books by Mohammad Arkoun, who is a French philosopher at Sorbonne (not much has been translated into English, but "Rethinking Islam" is brief and great). He helps understand the phenomenon of religion, and Islam in particular, in light of history, anthropology and semiotics. His writing is very wise and educated, and unbiased by faith or ideology.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I have found these moderate Muslims, there and in the US, and in the UK and Canada. (My travelling has been done by computer, but I seem to spend most of my time listening to Muslims. Unfortunately, I find this group prominent on the net, but totally powerless in their own communities -- except in the US. (I had a post on Dr. Strangelove's blog that discussed this in considerable detail which you might find interesting.)
I do look forward to some of your answers, either to the detailed questions I list, or to my overall question. Which is, basically, 'what are the positive aspects of Islam? In what way has it been good for people or countries in the present day, not in the 7th Century? And if you remove the idea of the Qur'an as being unchangeable and dictated by God, and remove some of the objectionable and problematical passages, what do you have left.'

I am noit sure how easy it will be to find the book you mention, but I would be very interested in reading it, and I will Google the name and see if any articles by him are available on the Web.

(I'll also probably be stopping by your blog. It looks like an interesting one.)

2:20 AM  

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