[This is republished, with permission, from Deafening Silence. Copyright is retained by the author.]
This post first appeared in January, 2007. As Martin Luther King Day approaches once again, I am re-posting the piece and in so doing reasserting my beliefs. For good or ill, here I stand and here I’ll stay.
To restate an old bromide: this blog may be little, but it covers the ground it stands on:
I should apologize. I have not made myself clear.
This blog was a gift from a dear friend and in my eagerness to master basic blogging skills such as editing posts and linking- all very new things to me- I neglected to stop and properly introduce myself.
Out of respect for those readers who have been kind enough to stop by and browse, I will take a moment to clarify my position on some matters.
You have a right to know what you’re in for.
I am a lifelong liberal. I am a registered Independent. I believe in individual rights and personal freedom. I also believe in personal responsibility and the obligation to speak one’s mind when those rights and freedoms are at stake.
I believe those individual rights and personal freedoms are now at stake and I am using this space to speak my mind and to try to persuade fellow liberals to open their eyes and raise their voices as well.
You are sorely needed.
I have never in my life voted for a member of the Bush family. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I support equal rights for homosexuals. I disagreed with the invasion of Iraq.
And I am unalterably opposed to Islamofascism.
Here is how I define it:
Islamofascism is an aggressive movement determined to impose fundamentalist Islamic theocracy on all the peoples of the world by means of violence and propaganda. Its aims are Imperial and its appetite for conquest obsessive; it will continue to gleefully bomb and murder no matter how unlikely its ultimate success may seem to the rest of us.
I oppose Islamofascism but I do not oppose Islam. I believe there can be a difference between the two, but that difference will remain obscure and indistinct so long as Islamofascism goes unchallenged.
It is up to those of us who believe in personal liberty and freedom to pose that challenge. With the approach of Martin Luther King Day we should all take a moment to remember those who struggled and suffered and died for those freedoms before us- the brave ones who marched in the face of firehoses and attacking dogs; the women who endured beatings and forced feedings in prison to win the right to vote; the miners and factory workers who risked what little they had to stand up to the bosses and demand decent working conditions and fair treatment; the brave investigators of government crime who have helped to push the corrupt out of powerful positions.
We rest comfortably on the rights and expectations they purchased for us with their struggles. Now it is our turn.
I want to be clear, so let me lay this out as plainly as I can:
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in the separation of church and state.
Coerced belief is unbelief; religious ritual without freedom of conscience is as pointless as a beating heart without pair of working lungs.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech- including to freedom to criticize and even give offense- is the very crucible that hones and tempers personal conviction. Those who criticize and those who are criticized often teach one another without realizing it. That which stings most can also galvanize. This is precious to society.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in freedom of religion.
This includes freedom from religion. The agnostic, the atheist, the undecided- all have a spiritual contribution to make; they are both a check on and a provocation to the devout. And for the believer, the freedom to question and doubt is a building block of true devotion. You may believe God is infallible, but we humans certainly are not.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I oppose slavery.
From child labor to female servants treated as virtual prisoners, Islamofascism is rife with de facto slavery. Slavery is by no means unique to Islamofascism- it is a centuries-old scourge- but in Islamofascism it is excused and practised with particular boldness- including in the United States.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I support Gay Rights.
Islamofascist rhetoric against homosexuals is offensive in this country, but that is nothing compared to actual laws currently applied by theocratic regimes in the Islamic world. Iran regularly hangs teenagers suspected of homosexuality. It is an ‘offense’ punishable by death. I could not look my gay friends in the eye knowing I did nothing to protest this.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I support freedom of the press.
Many people are not aware of the degree of censorship forced on the press in much of the Islamic world. Government control of newspapers and tv gives otherwise fair-minded people a very distorted and hateful picture of the West. We have only to look at the threats and violence engendered by the Danish Cartoon Controversy to see an example of this.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in a woman’s right to vote and to hold public office.
This is a breathtaking rarity in many parts of the Islamic world. And it is still new enough in our own country that we must fiercely protect and defend it. Recent years have seen the first women cast into powerful government roles. We must not let them be the last.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in a woman’s right to own property.
The legal right to an independent income and property is a woman’s best defense against abuse. It is a tool to help free her from an abusive mate; it is a stepping stone to education; it is a piece of security in an often insecure world. It allows a woman to stand upright in her own name. There is no substitute for this.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe rape must remain a crime- no exceptions and no excuses.
When I was young we were taught that rape was always an act of aggression and that victims were not to blame. This core belief is now in danger. Radical Imams in Australia and elsewhere are openly preaching that some women are ‘asking for it,’ and, most horrifying of all, some female government officials are hurrying to agree with them. On this subject, we must hold firm and give no quarter. Rape is always wrong; it is always a crime; this basic reality will not be changed to appease any militant belief system.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe domestic abuse must remain a crime- no exceptions and no excuses.
Abuse does not ‘teach her a lesson’ or show a child ‘the error of his ways. Abuse simply hurts. Sometimes it kills. If the Islamofascists are correct and the Koran really does prescribe beating one’s wife or child, then Islam will simply have to learn to live with a certain a certain amount of frustration and self-restraint. Domestic abuse must never be tolerated for any reason. It is a crime. And we are required to protect and defend the victims.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I believe in a woman’s right to acquire as much education as her intellectual talents will permit.
From Elizabeth the First to Madame Curie, educated women have been indispensable to civilization. A society that prizes docile illiteracy over informed contribution smothers itself, not just its women. Men and women suffer equally from its failures.
- I oppose Islamofascism because I wish for all Muslims- Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Druze, and every other sect- to enjoy freedom of conscience and peaceful worship.
Muslims suffer under Islamofascism just as non-Muslims do. Their beliefs are picked apart and they are persecuted for doctrinal differences. They are subjected to threats and intimidation. I recognize that some self-identified Muslims support the aims of Islamofascism- perhaps more, regrettably, than most people are willing to admit. But for those who do not, I wish an end to the feelings of dread and hopelessness- and a new beginning in freedom.
- In short, I oppose Islamofascism because I am a liberal.
And there you have it- for now. This is the first time I have spoken specifically about my beliefs, but it will not be the last. In the meantime I will try to present examples of threats to these core beliefs and freedoms- threats that have been going unheeded. And I will also present Muslim voices arguing for coexistence and peaceful change.
We are all needed- each of us- in this fight. It’s our turn, now.