Many Liberals Defend Islam the Way Conservatives Defend Guns

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.26.52 AMFollowing the horrific attack in Paris, France on Friday, there was no shortage of opinions to be found on the matter. Before most people knew much about the heartbreaking details concerning the attack, I found myself engulfed in debates with two very different groups of people:

That’s when I had an epiphany of sorts: Defending Islam is to many liberals what defending guns is to many conservatives.

Before going forward, I know writing this is going to invite a litany of attacks from liberals who tend to do what they always do whenever someone like myself (or Bill Maher) factually criticize Islam. Many will ignore the facts, cherry pick certain comments I’ve made or respond with an emotionally driven, knee-jerk reaction to what I have to say.

I know this, because I’ve already experienced this before.

Let me start off by saying, I am in no way anti-Muslim. I’m very anti-organized religion – all organized religion. I’ve written many articles bashing the idiocy and ignorance of conservative “Christianity.” I also know that there are many peaceful Muslims in the world.

That being said, it’s undeniable that Islam, more so than any other major religion, is linked to violence, oppression, inequality, instability and anti-women beliefs. Even if you remove the radical extremists such as ISIS or al Qaeda, Muslim nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Kuwait and Egypt aren’t exactly beacons for freedom, free expression, equality, women’s rights or many other ideas liberals claim to support.

That’s why I wholeheartedly agree with Bill Maher when he says it’s difficult to call yourself a liberal if you defend the culture of Islam.

As a progressive, I’m a staunch defender of women’s rights, gay rights, religious freedom and equality. Those are values I don’t see reflected in the vast majority of Muslim nations, especially in The Middle East and south Asia. Right now in Saudi Arabia there are people in prison for preaching equality and freedom. In several large Muslim nations, women aren’t allowed to be out in public unless they’re covered. In at least a few others, homosexuality is still punishable by death.

I’m struggling to understand this; can someone explain to me how any of that is liberal or why liberals would defend this religion, while seemingly never having any problems bashing right-wing Christian idiocy?

Like I said, liberals defending Islam is similar to how conservatives defend guns.

No matter how many horrific acts are carried out in the name of Islam, it’s never the religion’s fault – always the crazy extremists.

No matter how many die in the name of Islam, it’s never the religion’s fault – always the crazy extremists.

No matter how much evidence you produce showing how oppressive and anti-woman, anti-equality and anti-freedom Islam is all over the Muslim world, it’s never the religion’s fault – always the crazy extremists.

If you use facts to show that Islam and Sharia law are linked to a lot of this extremism and oppression, even in the non-terrorist aspects of Islam, liberals will often respond with ridiculous comparisons. They’ll harken back to the Crusades from a 1,000 years ago to try to make a point, or they’ll claim any white male who carried out a horrific act of violence over the past several decades is a “Christian terrorist.”

If a Muslim kills 5 people because they’re a lone psychopath, that’s not Islamic extremism. If a Muslim kills 5 people in the name of Islam, that’s Islamic extremism.

See the difference?

But it’s the same type of argument gun fanatics use to defend guns. It’s never the gun, or the gun culture, it’s just the “crazy extremists.” No matter how many statistics you show linking guns to violence, they’ll ignore the stats or dismiss them as biased or inaccurate. It’s never the gun, it’s always the “bad guys.”

It’s the same way many liberals react when confronted with stats about Islam. That’s ironic considering when it comes to guns, many liberals blame the guns just as much as the psychopaths using them. Yet that’s not the case when it comes to frequent bouts of violence driven by Islamic fanaticism.

This is what I call the world of “reactionary politics.” If liberals are for it, conservatives are against it and visa versa. It makes absolutely no sense, based upon normal political ideologies, why liberals would defend Islam. If I write something mocking Mormonism, Catholics, Baptists or Scientology, I’ll rarely see a single complaint from liberals. Yet on an article such as this, I’ll get slammed relentlessly and called a bigot and a racist for pointing out facts.

For the record, Islam is not a race – it’s a religion.

It never ceases to make me laugh when I’m told by liberals that I’m intolerant of Islam, therefore a bigot, whenever I use the same arguments against Islam that I do Christianity. The hypocrisy is palpable.

The truth of the matter is, the beliefs of a nation like Saudi Arabia aren’t all that different from a group like ISIS. In Saudi Arabia, Christianity is illegal, women are highly oppressed and homosexuality is sometimes punished by imprisonment and/or lashings. While ISIS is clearly a far… far more extreme interpretation of Islam, both are driven by the same belief in Sharia law. Which when you get right down to it, is at the core of most of the oppression, inequality and, yes, fanatical extremism found in the Muslim world.

It is the belief that a society should be ruled not by laws derived from freedom and equality, but by the Quran. And the truth is, most of the Muslim world supports Sharia law. Do they support ISIS? No, of course not. That’s not what I’m saying. But most do support laws that are against abortion, women’s rights, homosexuality and the general pretense of freedom and equality.

Again, this makes it all the more confusing why liberals are so quick to defend this religion.

Some liberals have asked me, “So, what’s your solution?” Are these folks asking me to solve the problem of Islamic oppression? If so – wow. If I had that answer, I’d probably be a very rich man.

The only way this gets “fixed” is by the moderate Muslims changing their own religion. Is that happening on some level? Yes. But it’s a slow… slow process. The number of moderate Muslims who embrace equality and liberal ideas is a slim minority that’s being drowned out by those who don’t.

Just ask Asra Nomani, a feminist activist for Muslim reform who’s frequently attacked by Islamic fundamentalists – and liberals, ironically – because she dares to call out the oppressive nature of many aspects of Islam, especially against women. And even though she’s a Muslim, she’s been accused of Islamaphobia. It’s absurd.

Again, I am not talking about terrorists, I’m talking about average, everyday Muslims from most of the Muslim world where Sharia law is still the preferred form of governing. The truth is we’ll never have a free, accepting society that embraces equality for all based on Sharia law – or any religious rule for that matter.

When it comes to liberals and conservatives, on the issues of Islam and guns, they choose what they want to blame based upon their own personal biases.

Many conservatives will blame all of Islam, not just the extremists, for Islamic terrorism. Yet when it comes to guns, they never blame the guns – only the extremists.

Many liberals will blame guns, not just the extremists, for gun violence. Yet when it comes to Islamic terrorism, they never blame the religion – only the extremists.

As for myself, I believe I’ve been consistent. When it comes to gun violence I blame guns and the gun culture the same way I blame Islamic radicals and the culture of Islam itself. In my opinion, it’s all linked.

I’m not anti-Muslim – not even close. The facts are, while all organized religions have their problems, there’s only one that’s frequently linked to consistent acts of global terrorism – and has been for decades.

Ultimately, my dream is to see a day where Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists and anyone from any other group stood side by side, together. Because no matter which ways we might try to divide ourselves – be it by skin color, nationality, ethnicity or religion – the undeniable fact is that we are all humans.

Every other label we give ourselves is nothing more than a human-made construct meant to divide us. And at the root of that divide, throughout most of human history, organized religion has been at the heart of that division.

Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • John Masters

    I’ve been going back and forth for a while on this topic. I don’t think you are far off the mark of where I’m starting to come down Mark. If you think about Christianity, and especially if you carefully study the Old Testament, there isn’t a ton of difference between the Bible and Quran. (And that’s no suprise given the connection of the two religions of Judaism/Christianity and Islam.)The Quran calls for the killing of all non-believers. In the Old Testament, during a number of the battles, God had told the Israelites they must kill every man woman and child in cities they were warring with (sounds suspiciously like killing all the non-believers to me). In addition, he commanded that the Israelites not “inter-mingle” with the gentiles. The Levitical Code is pretty Sharia like, and even into the New Testament, there was a place for women, but not in leadership…they were to be subservient. Slavery, not exactly frowned upon.

    I think the difference is (and I am speaking in very broad generalities here), that Christians did manage to advance some in their beliefs. We’ve moved a few notches on the progressive scale. The Christ story is always used to explain why “modern” Christians don’t have to follow the law of the Old Testament. Christ fulfilled the law. Now, plenty of fundamentalist Christians in this country would pull us as far backwards as possible in terms of Christian beliefs, and believe me, they want nothing more than an opportunity to, like Muslim extremists, imposed those beliefs on everyone else. So the two aren’t that different…but writ large, I think Christian progress on cultural and social issues has managed to advance at a slightly faster clip that with Muslims.

    So, I’m coming back around to these crimes being perpetrated by extremists, with most Muslims not being of that same bent. But think about Catholics in this country and most of Europe for example. There is no Christian religion more anti-choice and anti-gay than the Catholic Church (corporate). Still millions of Americans remain Catholic (active, semi-active, and recovering), and more or less just ignore the Bishops and edicts from Rome on those issues like abortion, birth control, homosexuality, etc.. Sure, there are some working for change, but it’s hardly a vast majority, and the reason is, they just ignore the parts they don’t like. There was this pretty large uprising in the LDS church this weekend, but still, I think I read there are an estimated 6M Mormons in America, and this was only 2,500 of them. Most go about being Mormon, even if they disagree with much the Church says.

    I think Muslims are pretty much the same. We certainly see Muslims living throughout Europe and North America who have adapted their religious beliefs and practices to their personal feelings, and accept and reject parts of the most extreme parts of their religion. But most, like with Christians here, have made their own personal accommodations with their religions, so they aren’t in the streets demanding change.

    Now, I’m not endorsing or defending any of these attitudes. I think it is disingenuous to claim you are of a particular religious persuasion, and not follow the tenants of that religion…or work actively to change them as you feel led, but the fact is, the vast majority of religious adherents, even the extremists (Christian and Muslim) make these accommodations to suit their own needs and desires. Yes, according to Christian belief, Jesus came to fulfill the law, so Christians don’t have to adhere to the Levitical Code, but somehow that one thing about homosexuality wasn’t fulfilled by Jesus, just all the other stuff they want to do…eat shrimp, wear a nice poly-wool blend coat, get a tattoo, etc. Most Baptists and of course Catholics don’t have women as Pastors. Other denominations have managed to find a “workaround.”

    So, in the end Allen, I agree with you to a point. Some graphic might express what I’m thinking better, but it comes to, a lot more Muslims believe in and/or are OK with the more violent aspects of their religious teaching, but it is hardly all. The comparison being Christians, where a smaller group is OK with the more violent and restrictive aspects of Christianity, and even those have a somewhat moderated take on the violent aspects. (Again, I know I’m speaking in sweeping generalities.)

    It is a tough conversation to have, as we of the Judaeo-Christian heritage have to also be willing to hold the mirror up to ourselves and our heritage at the same time, and we’re just not good at that.

  • Ron Jeffry

    you couldn’t have said it better. I’m a Democrat, and progressive on most things. However, it seems my positions on two things don’t fit in with most of the internet liberals:
    1. honoring the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, Israel
    2. Seeing Islam for what it is: a violent death cult that needs to not expand any further in number and geographic reach.

    I’m amazed at how many on the left wanna defend a religion. But its because it fits the narrative that its “poor ‘brown-skinned’ people oppressed by whites.” Ask the South Sudanese, the Mumbai 2008 victims, the Yazidis and Coptic Christians, etc.

    • Ednahilda

      I’m with you on most of this, but I’m a more hesitant to be a cheerleader for Israel. There’s a strain of extremism in some of Israel’s policies regarding Palestinians that seems to fuel the fringier parts of Israeli society. It does not appear to me to be making Israelis any safer or more secure.

      On that other issue, there’s pretty much no argument that white Europeans have been responsible for some really reprehensible things, but the “White: bad, bad, bad; Brown-skinned: saintly and oppressed” is ridiculous. I can’t help but think that this serves to infantilize ‘brown-skinned’ people by portraying them as pawns who have no power to affect their conditions or future.

      • Ron Jeffry

        on Israel, like all nations, they’re not perfect, especially with international conflicts like “Palestine,” but this: is why I honour them in the grand scheme of things

      • Richard

        Israel deserves to be cheered as the only liberalized country in the region. Palestinians are treated more favorably in Israel (there are 1.6 million Arab Israelis) than any other place in the middle east. They vote for and have members in the Knesset, and they have complete health care. Their treatment of Palestine is benign compared to any other country in the world that has a hostile and violent enemy on their borders devoted to terrorism and violent jihad out of religious conviction. Palestinians are among the most religious Muslims in the middle east, and are fully in accord with the most extreme views. There have been over 5000 incidents of terrors attacks fomented by Fatah and Hamas since Oslo. Withdrawals from settlements and from Gaza was met with 15000 missiles fired by Hamas. So when people suggest that a Jihadist society run by Hamas and Fatah-two very harsh and repressive governmants-is somehow better than a multicultural pluralistic democracy, I am completely amazed. It’s like saying to a black person “Hey, the KKK just wants a safe space-just look at their website”.

    • Kenneth Lee

      I share your views Ron. I to am a Democrat. Too many liberal regressives not speaking out against Islam.

  • nauticaa

    I think you have opened many eyes with this article.

  • So I will qualify this with saying that I generally vote “R”, but pulled the lever for Bill Clinton twice. As I have gotten older I have tailed away from being a lock and step Republican. I can accept the the GOP has gotten away from its Libertarian roots in supporting individualism, by injecting Christianity into much of their public policy.

    This article is a great take on Islam especially from a progressive. Im sure some of the resentment from the Islamic Extremists does trend back to certain youths feeling like they have been disaffected, but much of it is rooted in the rhetoric of the Queran.

    While much of the Old Testament does seem to mirror the Queran, Christianity infused Christ as the calalyst that sanctified and basically disenfranchised the Old Testament of the Bible. Currently I would say Im atheist as I cant believe in something without evidence. But growing up in a very religious household I would always ask my parents why we even bothered reading the Old Testament if we were no longer required to obey it. Shocking I never got a satisfactory answer to that question.

    But overall Christianity seemed to be able to square its new vision to make it allowable and to function peacefully in a Western Society. Islam is having a time doing the same thing, probably because in Islam’s tenets there can be no separation of mosque and state.

  • Hon

    Eliminating u.s. citizens gun rights in the after math of violence committed by sick twisted people is not going to be a solution. Even in countries with complete gun bans, mentally ill and fanatical murderers manage to get guns and kill lots of people.
    The only solution (and it would only be partially effective) would be totalitarian government. A nation where no one has any rights (except the ruling class and government elites) The government polices all aspect of society. How you live, what you do, who you associate with, even what you eat and drink. Think about life under such a system (like the soviet union, even in the soviet union murders were common place).
    There have always been sick and evil people, and there always will be. It is the natures of humans. Selfish, greedy, manipulative… all the bad traits come out even worse in a repressive society.
    Our news media ignores what is happening in most of the world, mass murders occur all over, we never hear about them.
    Venezuela is falling apart, in parts of Africa violence is a way of life… most of the world is a hellhole. IF you live in 1st world democratic nation, count your blessings.