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← What you can't say about Islam - the backlash against Elizabeth Moon

What you can't say about Islam - the backlash against Elizabeth Moon - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

What can you say about Islam that won't incite a backlash?

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 22:01:15 UTC | #538817

T-Porter's Avatar Comment 2 by T-Porter

I admit that I was speed reading but what was I suppose to notice? I did not see anything that I would find offensive or wrong, well, perhaps I would not agree with exactly what was said but I certainly see nothing offensive.

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 22:25:29 UTC | #538836

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Comment 3 by SourTomatoSand

It's been said in the other comments, but the most offensive parts to me are the "many Muslims.." bit. For example:

I know--I do not dispute--that many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could. I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways.

It reminds one of old-timey descriptions of other races, which tended to start as "the negro" or "the Chinaman" or of Hitler's descriptions of "the Jew." It serves to marginalize an entire group of people into one caricatured individual.

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 22:50:22 UTC | #538847

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 4 by glenister_m

The sad fact that if you write an opinion on a blog and get disinvited as a guest of honour at a SF convention, shows how little free speech is valued anymore.

Writing a comment on a blog is hardly like the leader of a country making racist comments during a press conference. Disinviting someone for writing an opinion you don't agree with on a blog, when they were invited for their work writing books, is hardly fair if the topic had nothing to do with your organization. I could understand if she had made insulting comments about the upcoming convention, but it isn't even along the lines that her comments supported Republicans and the con organizers were Democrats. As an attempt to distance themselves from an opinion they disagreed with, the convention organizers have attracted more attention to it and tied themselves to the controversy in the process. Streisand effect anyone?

What's next, you get fired for complaining about how bad your day was at work on Facebook or Twitter?

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 22:59:41 UTC | #538849

Notstrident's Avatar Comment 5 by Notstrident

Just wanted to remind you that Madison, Wisconsin is the where the headquarters of Freedom From Religion Foundation is.

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 23:11:29 UTC | #538854

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 6 by Border Collie

Go, Russell! I sent her an email of encouragement a few days ago. I wonder if the Wiscon people can even see the pathological irony of their decision?

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 23:17:21 UTC | #538857

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 7 by nancynancy

Islamophilia is a cancer that's eating away at rational society. Once it takes hold it's all but impossible to excise, and Wiscon 35 clearly has a rampant case of it.

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 23:43:39 UTC | #538861

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 8 by DocWebster

I threw out all my Orson Scott Card books after that hateful letter he wrote in support of Prop 8. This blog entry doesn't rise to that level of rancor.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:14:01 UTC | #538871

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 9 by Rob Schneider

I think it might be useful to attempt to phrase our opinions in terms of the reprehensible idea, rather than in terms of who holds the idea, or what race/religion they are a part of.

I am against blasphemy laws; misogyny; child marriage; slavery, etc. Then when ANY faith tries to rationalize it from their holy text, you can slam that approach to morality. But I do think we can probably focus our outrage on the outrageous, rather than the incidental.

It's tough... because no matter how measured our tone, a critique leveled at an idea will be excoriated for being aimed at the holders of the idea. Oldest trick in the rhetorical book, I fear: You can't say anything about my race, religion, ethnicity, etc... but if you make negative comments about an idea I hold dear, I can CLAIM it was aimed at my race, religion or ethnicity.

Conversation stoppers.

Sigh...

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:16:11 UTC | #538873

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 10 by crookedshoes

I want to remind everyone that (and yes, I am yelling): ISLAM IS NOT A VIOLENT RELIGION AND I WILL BEHEAD ANYONE THAT DISAGREES.

Perhaps the single saddest sentence ever uttered.

reminds me of curly of the three stooges: "I tried to think but nuttin happened... nyuk nyuk..."

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:17:04 UTC | #538874

Lightnin's Avatar Comment 11 by Lightnin

I guess it does, however "Muslim" isn't a race - it is an intellectual position that people hold, and we have the right to criticise. Imagine if she replaced Muslim with Conservative or Anarchist or Libertarian or Environmentalist.

Comment 3 by SourTomatoSand :

It's been said in the other comments, but the most offensive parts to me are the "many Muslims.." bit. For example:

I know--I do not dispute--that many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could. I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways.

It reminds one of old-timey descriptions of other races, which tended to start as "the negro" or "the Chinaman" or of Hitler's descriptions of "the Jew." It serves to marginalize an entire group of people into one caricatured individual.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:28:08 UTC | #538877

SourTomatoSand's Avatar Comment 12 by SourTomatoSand

Comment 11 by Lightnin

Yes, I'm aware it isn't a race, but the "many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks" bit smacks of the same sentiment to me. We're still talking about groups of people; this whole article was about Muslims, not Islam specifically.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:38:27 UTC | #538880

Lightnin's Avatar Comment 13 by Lightnin

Comment 12 by SourTomatoSand

I understand what you mean, and it doesn't help that Moon was following on from her comments about other immigrant groups. Perhaps a poor choice of words on her part.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:42:38 UTC | #538881

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 14 by Steven Mading

Comment 12 by SourTomatoSand :

Comment 11 by Lightnin

Yes, I'm aware it isn't a race, but the "many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks" bit smacks of the same sentiment to me. We're still talking about groups of people; this whole article was about Muslims, not Islam specifically.

Yes but the difference is that thoughts contained in a person's head are part of the definition of a religion (I would go further and say the ONLY things that define a religion are always going to be statements about the thoughts in a person's head). But thoughts a person thinks are not part of the definition of a race. That's where any attempt to treat religion as being like race is a failed analogy. If you said "I think black people are crazy" you are making an invalid leap from physical traits to state of mind, and that leap is where the bigotry lays. But if you say, "I think Christians are crazy" you're not making that same sort of leap. You're using their self-admitted beliefs to make a statement about their state of mind - making a link from mental trait to mental trait - not the sort of invalid leap from a physical trait to a mental one that makes racism incorrect.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 01:09:29 UTC | #538886

EvolvedDNA's Avatar Comment 15 by EvolvedDNA

In talking to Muslims you have the same feelings as talking to a child about, say, Santa Claus. You have to watch every word so not to give the truth away. Can't we create a holographic Mohammad and project it some Imams one night and tell them that they are full of it.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 04:52:06 UTC | #538907

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 16 by Enlightenme..

Comment 12 by SourTomatoSand : ...but the "many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks" bit smacks of the same sentiment to me. We're still talking about groups of people; this whole article was about Muslims, not Islam specifically.

That's not the bit that was offensive..

This was:

many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons

I'm sorry Russell Blackford, wrong call on this one, I would have dis-invited her myself.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 05:03:28 UTC | #538909

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 17 by Dr Doctor

Honestly, a number of commenters could do with reading the article itself before implying its PC gone mad or uppity Muslims threatening to behead people. Perhaps reading what she actually got disinvited over and inserting "blacks" or "atheists" or "Hindus" into some of the sentences instead of "Muslims" would help awaken the neurons of those making knee jerk comments.

This comment from the linked blog I thought summed it up quite well:

I don't think this really has anything to do with PC or "what you can't say about Islam". It's a very intemperately-worded spray (that is, the second half of her post) and the weasel words are distinctly troubling. Of course there are many important things to say about how a lot of Islam treats women and treats human rights. But the way this article was worded does not do it.

Since Moon conveniently deleted (or hid) the entire comments thread on that post, you can see some of the reaction at Lavie Tidhar's post on the World SF blog.

See his highlighting: "many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks"; "I do not dispute that there are moderate, even liberal, Muslims, that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons"; "But Muslims fail to recognize how much forbearance they've had."

These are not thoughtful or temperate statements. They are clearly implying that you know, most of the Muslim world is pretty much implicated in 9/11, and indeed the post is justifying the ridiculous (manufactured) outrage at the building of an Islamic cultural centre a few blocks away from the site by a group of just those temperate Muslims, many of whom may even have "all the virtues of civilized persons"!

If she had said that "many atheists have all the virtues of civilized persons" we'd see some entirely justified outrage from PZ. It's the "many". It's the Oh, I realise there are moderate Muslims but I'm going to go ahead and group them all together with the extremists anyway.

The World SF thread is a good place to see the reaction it caused. As an early commenter says, "What a ridiculous dangerously innocuous post." Wiscon disinvited her as GoH because (after I believe some heated discussion) they decided they didn't want to be seen to be endorsing her views, which seems fair enough to me.

and then Colin's followup is additionally enlightening and ends pithily:

More to the point, the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were launched by a president and a prime minister who claim to have been inspired by the will of that same Christian God. Unless Moon wants to take on board the collective blame for those invasions - for the annihilation of Fallujah, for instance, or the atrocities at Abu Grahib - she maybe wants to be a little more precise with her attacks. And then she goes and deletes all the responses to her blog post. Pffft. Some free speech martyr.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 05:18:11 UTC | #538911

beanson's Avatar Comment 18 by beanson

I am totally, 100%, appalled at those who want to burn the Koran

the only statement of hers I took issue with

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 06:52:59 UTC | #538918

beanson's Avatar Comment 19 by beanson

This from a comment posted by Dr Doctor (not his, but endorsed by him presumably)

If she had said that "many atheists have all the virtues of civilized persons" we'd see some entirely justified outrage from PZ.

that's just totally stupid- unless you can point to systematic human rights abuses from large groups of atheists- in the Name of ATHEISM

Islam, as Sam Harris has noted, really is less morally worthy and it is genuinely surprising to witness those soaked in muslim ideology espouse views which tally with the enlightened western mind

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 07:08:05 UTC | #538919

Dr Doctor's Avatar Comment 20 by Dr Doctor

@beason

Endorsed by me? Why would I need to endorse it? I agree entirely with people having their conciousness raised to their own inherent biases.

I also don't like quote snipping because it invariably leads the person doing it to make errors.

"that's just totally stupid- unless you can point to systematic human rights abuses from large groups of atheists- in the Name of ATHEISM"

He clearly used the word "atheists" and not "atheism". I'm not sure how to explain the point in clearer terms than is in the comment already?

Thus your comment appears to miss the target somewhat, unless you explain better, it leaves me nonplussed and bemused as to what you think I need to answer for.

Anyone remember "Some of my best friends are black" from the 70s?

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 08:29:41 UTC | #538926

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 21 by Stevehill

I could take issue with one or two of her statements, but only because I personally have a different view. I defend her right to say everything she said.

So, last time I checked, does the US constitution.

That it should come to this: a convention for creative writing banning someone for, well, writing what she feels.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 08:31:20 UTC | #538927

beanson's Avatar Comment 22 by beanson

many muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons

actually makes a substantial point- it tells us something (surprising); whereas

many atheists have all the virtues of civilized persons

is just perjorative without saying anything useful about the world- (as there is no logical link between atheism and any other value therefore no deduction can be made about a group of atheists other than the obvious)

so PZ or anyone could be consistant in feeling justifiably outraged at the atheist jibe and not so at the muslim fact

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 08:40:18 UTC | #538929

Outrider's Avatar Comment 23 by Outrider

this whole article was about Muslims, not Islam specifically

Um? This whole sentence is about Christians, not Christianity...

This is about atheists, not atheism? No, still doesn't make any sense to me at all - Muslims are the embodiment of Islam, by definition.

many Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks, did not approve of them, would have stopped them if they could

Don't see a problem with this, sounds like a perfectly valid comment, given that the attacks in question were perpetrated by self-confessed Muslims.

I do not dispute that ... that many Muslims have all the virtues of civilized persons and are admirable in all those ways.

This is the one that seems to be biting people - the challenge has been to put 'Christian' in the place of 'Muslim' and see how you feel about? Absolutely fine - these aren't 'civilised' people, they are people following an ethical code founded in barbarism. Now, if you were to put 'atheism' in its place, then it becomes offensive because we specifically don't advocate following such a dogma.

O.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 08:50:06 UTC | #538932

Anvil's Avatar Comment 24 by Anvil

I read the above comments - before reading her article, and was initially torn, both one way, then the other, by all of your, as usual, lucid and persuasive reasoning. I then read her actual blog.

Can't we forget the wording of individual sentences for a second and look at her argument overall?

Isn't it simply that she is surprised that the people or organisations that applied to build an Islamic cultural centre 'at/near the site of the 9/11 attack, (wouldn't) have been able to predict that this would upset a lot of people.'?

and, further, that: 'If they did not know, then they did not know enough about the culture into which they had moved.'

and, further still, that this showed that these people/organisations, alongside '...Libertarians, survivalists, Tea-Partyers, fundamentalist Christians, (and) anyone else whose goals benefit only their own group' did not understand the fundamental concept of citizenship that she understood was meant by the founding fathers of her nation?

If she was previously invited 'round to my house for some scoff, I doubt very much that this blog would cause me to disinvite her. On the contrary, I think, rather, I would be looking forward to the event with even greater anticipation.

Anvil.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 10:14:45 UTC | #538949

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 25 by AtheistEgbert

Clearly, everything she said was spot on. Also very clear, is just how bonkers some of the comments are, trying to equate her comments with racism, so as to confuse what's really going on. Anyone who wants to shut down criticism is no different to the Islamists as far as I'm concerned.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 11:01:17 UTC | #538960

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 26 by Letsbereasonable

Is this just more 'political correctness gone mad'? You can trash Christianity and Christians with impunity but you can't do likewise to Islam and Muslims? Or is it because Muslims blow things up and we are more afraid of having things blown up than having abortion clinics torched? I see.

It works obviously. Gangsterism I mean. Actually gangsterism has always worked. We just pretend it doesn't. It always ultimately fails in the movies. But it always works in real life. Muslim gangsterism is working handsomely. Our job is to make sure they know we know it is. Well done the Wisconsin feminist science fiction convention.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 11:26:48 UTC | #538968

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 27 by Jonathan Dore

Comment 17 by Dr Doctor

Honestly, a number of commenters could do with reading the article itself before implying its PC gone mad or uppity Muslims threatening to behead people. Perhaps reading what she actually got disinvited over and inserting "blacks" or "atheists" or "Hindus" into some of the sentences instead of "Muslims" would help awaken the neurons of those making knee jerk comments.

Dr, did you not read Steven Mading's post 14 before making yours? It addresses your point precisely. Hindu, Atheist, and Muslim are all thought-positions; black is not.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 12:27:06 UTC | #538986

keith's Avatar Comment 28 by keith

Sour Tomato Face,

It reminds one of old-timey descriptions of other races, which tended to start as "the negro" or "the Chinaman" or of Hitler's descriptions of "the Jew." It serves to marginalize an entire group of people into one caricatured individual.

Really? It doesn't remind this one of that. It reminds this one of the fact that a few Muslims aren't necessarily representative of all Muslims. Why on Earth would it remind one (I assume you mean your one) of Hileresque Jew-bashing? Might this perhaps be a case of hyperbole, perhaps even hyperbole that is supposed to reflect well on one's own Persil-white anti-racist credentials.

Incidentally, I have no idea what it is to 'marginalize an entire group into one caricatured individual'. You have learnt the language of PC well my son, but despite that there are simply too many images here crowding in on top of each other and getting in each other's way.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 13:22:35 UTC | #538994

mellifera's Avatar Comment 29 by mellifera

She had a right to her opinion, Wiscon has a right not to be associated with that opinion. Shrug.

I think (MY opinion here) is that she stepped over the line when she decided that she could divine the motives of the Park 54 people--they were "probing." How the hell does she know that? She doesn't. She was making them out to be malicious, when we know nothing of the sort.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 15:08:48 UTC | #539025

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 30 by Enlightenme..

Can't we forget the wording of individual sentences for a second and look at her argument overall?

What? - That Muslims... well, civilised ones anyway, are showing a remarkable lack of cultural sensitivity by wanting to exercise their right to build a cultural centre wherever they like in a secular nation?

I see two approaches possible.

One, is to allow a space for Muslims in the 'civilised' world to prove themselves to be the mostly de facto Cultural Muslims they in fact are. (as exemplified by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown)

The other is the Borg approach of a dismaying number of posters here.

Wed, 27 Oct 2010 15:31:30 UTC | #539041