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Friday, March 11, 2011

Mullah Joe Rides Again

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for March 11, 2011

Are you now or have you ever been . . . .?

The ghost of Joe McCarthy is now haunting the halls of Congress again. This time, under the guise of a “hearing” to determine the extent of just how dangerous and disloyal American Muslims are and just how terrorist-filled their mosques are. The hearing is being run by Congressman Peter King, a Republican, at a time when the GOP has degenerated into a party that even conservative columnist George Will has accused of generating vibes of weirdness, so holding hearings on “Muslims” in a poisonously radicalized country like America while claiming you’re just after the facts, Ma’m, is ingenuous at best, malicious at worse. Dealing with the issue of targeting and recruiting young, disaffected, radicalized American Muslims to serve as foot soldiers for Al Qaeda is a job now being dealt with very well by local law enforcement in cooperation with the Muslim community. So what we’ll have with King’s committee, (which has the full blessing of Speaker of the House, John Boehner, so it isn’t like King is some kind of weird-vibed wacko running off the rez,) will be mostly a piece of Republican Political Theatre, a movie-trailer intended to feed the base and keep them riled up and ready for the 2012 election.

And I have no doubt that like the ginned up fake Ground Zero Mosque controversy, we’ll see a whole new round of hoiked-up up Islamaphobia. Which is all red meat for the GOP base --dog-whistle language of the uninformed, the fear-filled, the “birthers,” the AstroTurfed dupes who live in terror that Sharia Law is coming to their town and some Mexican-looking guy in a turban will go all hijab on their asses.

And if this little piece of political theatre results in generating more fear resulting in further scaring and alienating Muslim Americans, well, no matter. The 2012 election takes precedence over any long-term harm done to our social fabric. Social fabric, even our basic core beliefs are of no use in these Joe McCarthy hard times. Instead, the winning strategy for 2012 to keep fear alive, divide neighbor from neighbor, the have-less from the have-nothings, and make clear the battle lines are between Us (white, Christian) and Them (non-white, non-Christian, those not-really Americans du jours who have taken our Country away from us). Dog whistle music.

Mr. King claims that his hearings will be very informative and will educate the public. If that’s really his intent, then what Mr. King should be doing is broadcasting a National Education Workshop, a series of informative lectures about the history and basic belief systems of the world’s great religions. As it is, Americans are woefully uninformed on even the most basic principles of their own religion and disgracefully ignorant about other faiths. This lack of accurate information is what allows otherwise good people to behave so badly when the weirdness-vibe fear-mongers come to town.

Mr. King also claims that his hearings will focus on “terrorism.” If that’s really the topic, then shall we expect Mr. King to move onto hearings focused on Mexican Americans since narco-terrorists are recruiting young, disaffected Mexican American youth to go to work for their lucrative drug cartels? True, the narco-terrorists represent a lucrative business opportunity for American gun manufacturers, but they also are busy terrorizing American tourists, so surely Mr. King would want to next target the Mexican community and get some informative, educational answers?

No? Well, surely Mr. King will next target “Catholics” to find out why they are recruiting and sheltering dangerous pedophile priests in their midst? In Philadelphia alone, 21 priests were just suspended following a grand jury investigation. Surely, the Catholic community is a hot bed of radical clerics terrorizing children?

No, again?

Then how about targeting the Irish? After all, King was good buddies with the IRA, a known terrorist organization. Surely he needs to investigate the threat from his old Irish terrorist pals?

But, no. Irish terrorists, Mexican mafia, Catholics, even home-grown Christian Militia groups don’t have the cache that Mr. King can get from “Muslims.” And so we enter our burning time -- A feverish country filled with fearful people who have forgotten what it means to be an American, a populace with bulls-eyes on their backs, their homes stolen, their jobs off-shored, good men and women who are turning ugly in their fear and ignorance as they begin to understand that they have no future, except to be targeted and fleeced by demagogues and scoundrels with books to sell and TV shows to flog.

Demagogues and scoundrels. Now there’s a terrorist group that really does need an investigative hearing.

21 comments:

M said...

Nay nay Ann, you are the one inciting fear and loathing. With all the brutal killings taking place by radical Islam most of us probably just assume these hearings make sense to determine how it will affect us. Course, that is your sctich Ann. Rail against anything Republican.
Sincerely, M

Patrick O'Hannigan said...

The McCarthyite angle would be more damning if the Venona Intercepts hadn't vindicated many of Tailgunner Joe's charges. And while I liked the column, it's got an apples-to-oranges problem, in that Islamic terrorism is grounded in ideology and supported by significant (Islamic) religious authority, whereas no one pretends that IRA bombings or Mexican cartel murders or pedophile priests have religious justification for depravity.

In other words, to borrow a nuclear metaphor, politics, money, and hubris do not have "throw weights" comparable to religion and ideology.

As one wag put it, the fact that Rep. King, whatever his many faults, needs extra security to hold these hearings is justification enough for holding them.

Sandra Gore said...

I'm not just worried about Muslim Americans. I'm blogging and tweeting big time on Egypt, Libya and other pro-democracy efforts in the Middle East.
I've had thoughts about being on "lists" because of Arabic language Facebook friends and tweets. I'm only practicing my right to free speech, but fear these neo-McCarthy's will come after non-Muslim Americans next. We're no doubt "sympathizers" in their minds.
Will I be asked if I'm a card-carrying friend of Islam?

Patrick O'Hannigan said...

Sandra, isn't it the friends of Islam who want most to help that religion and ideology purge itself of fascist elements that hearings like King's might help to identify? See, for example, the courageous work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

We watched the movie, THE FRONT, the other night for the first time in years. Timely for anyone wanting to sample the flavor of the word, "purge."

Mike Green said...

You mean King? the staunch IRA supporter?
Well if you want someone to study terrorism I guess it's a good idea to have somebody that has close ties to a terrorist organization doing the study.
The hypocrisy is just mind boggling.

Churadogs said...

M sez:"With all the brutal killings taking place by radical Islam most of us probably just assume these hearings make sense to determine how it will affect us."

M, I challenge you to tell me one thing you learned from these hearings that you didn't already know. I challenge Mr. King to show how these hearings taught the government a single thing THEY didn't already know. Also, M, did you bother to attend the "Taste of Islam" lecture on Thursday? No? I can guarantee you WOULD have learned a great deal. But you couldn't be bothered to attend and actually learn something could you? No. Let me guess. Too much effort.


Patrick sez:"in that Islamic terrorism is grounded in ideology and supported by significant (Islamic) religious authority,"

Incorrect. Islamic terrorists (like ALL terrorists) require 3 things: MOI. Malice, Obscurantism and Injustice or sense of Injustice. Muslim terrorist acts are NOT ground in "significant Islamic religious authority." Significant Islamic religious authority is clear. The Koran, for example, clearly states that killing innocents (non combatants) and killing women and children and killing fellow Muslims is forbidden. But terrorists (and religious extremists of all stripes) ground their acts in Obscure (out of conext) texts and wrongly interpreted texts. Same thing happens with Christian fundamentalists that justify any manner of thing by quoting bits of scripture. I don't think you would say that murdering abortion doctors is justified and approved by "significant Christian religious authority." Neither is stoning witches or adulterers.

Also needed in the mix, is "injustice or sense of injustice" which brings (Muslim) terrorism into the political relm, not the religious.

Malice, of course, is malice and cuts across ALL religious/political lines and has no "religious" blessing at all.

Mike sez:"You mean King? the staunch IRA supporter?
Well if you want someone to study terrorism I guess it's a good idea to have somebody that has close ties to a terrorist organization doing the study."

Hahah. yeah. the Hipocrisy is really amazing. But heck, we've now got Newt Gingrich blaming his infidelities on America -- he so loved his country he just had to screw around on his wives. America made him do it! Awww, Gawwwwd. I love it.

Patrick O'Hannigan said...

Ah, my friend, you were too quick to call my citation of Islamic authority "incorrect." Certainly the Koran forbids the killing of innocents. But there's the rub-- it all depends on who is defined as "innocent." Moreover, Koranic expressions of mercy come early on. By the time Mohammed had accumulated significant political power (i.e., after he decamped to Medina), mercy took a back seat to the so-called "verses of the sword." Last but not least, where do all the fatwas come from if not "Islamic religious authority"?

The moral equivalence you're trying to invoke vis-a-vis Christianity won't work, precisely because mainstream Christianity does not, for example, condone the killing of abortion doctors. Islam can't appeal to any centralized authority, only to power players in Sunni or Shia circles, and to academics in certain universities, far too many of whom preach frequently about the differences between the "House of Islam" (Muslims) and the "House of War" (everybody else, aka "Dar-al-harb"). As Stephen Colbert might say, "I am not making this up."

Churadogs said...

Patrick Sez:"Ah, my friend, you were too quick to call my citation of Islamic authority "incorrect."

Not at all. Saying some mullah power player somewhere calling the wrath of God down on his shia/Sunni counterpart for reasons of gaining political power and/or for revenge killings and/or branding the "West" as an enemy combantant and urging his followers to toss bombs constitutes "Islamic terrorism [being] grounded in ideology and supported by significant (Islamic) religious authority," is like saying what the Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church's family does at funerals is "grounded in ideology and supported by significant (Christian) religous authority." I'm pretty sure a head count of all the mullahs and learned Muslim clerics world-wide would net you the "significant" answer that terrorism is NOT approved of in the Koran.

If you're interested in "war" versus, I invite you to compare Kornic "war" versus with Biblical "war" versus. One of the shuras stresses that if an enemy offers peace you must offer peace in return. In a whole lot of Biblical passages, God demands that every man, woman, child, goat, sheep and grain of wheat be destroyed! Those are His "peace" terms.

I mention that part of MOI that defines a terrorist is Obscurantism: Taking one often obscure section or passage or non-mainstream belief or cherry picking and using that to justify criminal actions. This happens in every religion. (Cherry picking various Holy books and history to then claim proof of murderous intent of some religion is equally using obscurantism.)

At a recent series of lectures on Islam, the religious studies prof. noted in passing (to much laughter) that if we're talking about religious killing, Lutherans killed some 60,000 during the reformation wars, after which the Prof.pointed to a local Lutheran pastor who was in the audience and shook his finger at him, saying, "Ah, you Lutherans!"

You also say,"Islam can't appeal to any centralized authority,"

Neither can "Christianity." Shia/Sunni/Sufi and within that all kinds of sub groups formed around certain popular or learned clerics. Think Baptist, Southern Baptist, Westboro Baptist, about a gazillion evangelical churches each with their slightly different take, Catholics (who once were pretty organized but are now becoming like herding cats, at least in America, "murderous" Lutherans, Methodists, the list is ENDLESS.
And don't say, Oh, well their authority is The Bible. WHICH version? Which translation?

Terrorists are MOI's, not mainstreamers and they are not sanctioned or justified or approved of by any significant religions significant "authorities."

mom said...

hmmmm. religion. don't get me wrong, i love my catholic upbringing except for the sex part. all i know is that i lost my faith in an all-knowing, all-loving god who loved me personally. after i really thought about things, the idea of god telling abraham to KILL his son. if I did that, i would be committing a mortal sin. and god allowing jesus, HIS son to be crucified. if i did that i would be committing a mortal sin. if i did all the other horrible things that have transpired in the world, i would be committing a mortal sin. if you are a person of faith, i ask that you tell me how you reconcile an all-loving with all-knowing creator. (i mean he KNEW eve was gonna bite that apple. and if he knew it, he set her up to fail. and don't give me the "there is a purpose we cannot know" explanation.

Spectator said...

I have not seen a single Westboro Baptist misfit lop off a head as yet, or stone a woman stuck in sand up to her chin. And this is CURRENT religious practice, not what went on 300 years ago when Catholics were eating fish on Friday or going to hell! Lets stick to a conversation about CURRENT religious fanatics being pedophiles or accurately reading instructions within the Koran to kill infidels if they would not convert.

90% of the Muslims in the world, if they could read your rant about King, would go to a local Mullah to have you tried under sharia law: this is the business of men, not women. Verdict: Cut off her hands so she can not type.

You do not need to condemn the silence of American Muslims on the terrorists within. At the same time, there is no necessity for Mike Green to chastise King for IRA support. After all, the Muslims committing terrorist acts are doing the will of Allah, and those of the IRA are, and were, freedom fighters.

Catholics fighting protestant oppression.

Churadogs said...

Spectator sez:"And this is CURRENT religious practice,"

this is current SOCIAL/Cultural practice in a very, very few countries. so much of what Americans confuse "islam" with is actually tribal, local, cultural (traditional) practices that are not in the Koran. For example, Mohammed's first wife was a very successful and well-to do trader. Ran her own business which, when she married, became the family business, so to speak. (He maried well.) The Koran spells out very clearly that men and women are equal in the eyes of God and are halves of a whole (unlike the Bible and second-class citizenship via ribs) There have been several women Presidents and VPs of Muslim countries, yet not a single female Prez and VP in America. Yet we claim that in our country our women are "liberated." ReallY?

Too often we conflate those countries who abuse women via culturally "traditional" mysogynistic practices (ie. Afghanistan under the Taliban) and declare that Islam is responsible. It isn't. Obscurantism is. Funadmentalism is. Malice is. Not Islam itself. We too often conflate culture for religion.

And also sez:"accurately reading instructions within the Koran to kill infidels if they would not convert."

INCORRECTLY reading . . . Mohammed was very, very specific. Compulsion of belief is forbidden. Again, you've got Malice using Obscurantism and cherry picking to justify evil, which is also forbidden.

and sez:"Muslims committing terrorist acts are doing the will of Allah, and those of the IRA are, and were, freedom fighters."

Once again, you're conflating "religion" and "politics." Many terrorists are freedom fighters. The Mujahadeen would argue that they're blowing up American INVADERS. Their religion has nothing to do with it. Their country has been invaded. They want the invaders OUT (Russian, British, American, Alexander the Great, same guy)

And sez:"90% of the Muslims in the world, if they could read your rant about King, would go to a local Mullah to have you tried under sharia law: this is the business of men, not women. Verdict: Cut off her hands so she can not type."

Oy, Vey. John, you're embarassing yourself. And you claim to be a USC gradute? Oy!

Spectator said...

Well Ann, thanks for the sophistry lesson in Muslim apologetics. I have no idea as to what translation of the Koran you are reading from. Clearly, it is meant for western consumption with an agenda to convert infidels to the "kinder and more gentle" religion of Islam. Religious propaganda exists.

80% of the Muslims on the face of the earth are fundamentalists. Belief in the fundamentals of a religion is a belief in the true and original religious tenants and creeds of a religion: Pure! As a result fundamentalists see religion differently than those who have accepted crafted religion to their own needs. There is nothing wrong in fundamental belief unless you are judging from agnostic, atheistic, or outside religious belief.

Anyone who thinks that there is a difference between politics and religion is naive. They are one in the same, based upon a crafted belief system. And one cannot understand a culture unless one understands it's religion or blends thereof. Remember, religion came first with the first river/tree god, then codified laws, and then organized civilization. Religion is politics.

Your apologetics, based upon a non fundamentalist Koran, are equivalent of apologetics for "The Knights in White Satin".

I am sorry that you feel that I am embarrassing myself, but my religion minor and split philosophy/English major from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) compels me to do so, if you see it as such. As an Italian Roman Catholic of six generations, and former altar boy, my split with this faith at sixteen caused a love of the study of religions (in effect to justify my departure from a theist belief) and to better understand the origins of civilization and nature of world politics and cultures. In many erudite religious circles I was considered "the devil's advocate".

SLOTowner said...

Spectator, you simply come across as uneducated to me: providing only platitudes, no substance. First you say you graduated from USC and now UNC? Oy! So embarrassing!

Churadogs said...

Spectator: Suggest you read Rezlan's book. It's hard to make equivalencies from Islam to Christianity -- using the word "fundamentalism" for example is not really accurate. When you say 80% of all Muslims are "fundamentalists," that doesn't translate into what we think of as a "fundamentalist." Describing Islam that way, doesn't really fit. When you say "nonfundamentalist Koran," that's innacurate, too. There is no such thing. According to Rezlan, for example, like the Bible, there's 1)problems with translation since Arabic is apparently a fiercely difficult language that, in its sublime poetics operates like, well, poetry, and so isn't translateable, really -- it can be 'splained, sorta, but the ineffible can't really be translated one on one, 2) the clear, literal, easy to understand stuff and 3) the obscure, muddled, contradictory stuff that needs to be 'splained or set into some kind of historical context. Like "Christianity" much of what we think is "Islam" was added later, plus there's three main branches with slightly different beliefs and traditions that have evolved over the years -- like Christianity. Yet we lump them all together and now identify them with MOIs, ignorant, murderous "terrorists," cherry-pick parts of the (often mistranslated) Koran, then confuse a mishmash of tribalism, nationalism, sectism, and politics and ego-driven fanaticism with "Islam." Then conclude that 80% of all Muslims are "fundamentalists" with the implication being they're batshit crazies hell-bent on converting us infidels (even though the Koran forbids compulsion in belief) and going all hijab on our asses and coming to impose Sharia Law in Oklahoma --by way of a Muslim president that you believe was born in Kenya, I suppose.

A religion minor from Chapel Hill? Your comments too often belie that, which is why I suspect SLOTowner's raising his eyebrows.

Churadogs said...

Just another thought. Spectator sez"I have no idea as to what translation of the Koran you are reading from. Clearly, it is meant for western consumption with an agenda to convert infidels to the "kinder and more gentle" religion of Islam."

this theme is constantly repeated; Islam is coming to convert us infidels and if we don't submit, we die. Oddly, the Koran is clear: compulsion in belief is forbidden. Oddly, the Bible is just the opposite: proslytising is encouraged -- spread the good news, ONLY through Jesus can you be saved & etc.and historically, it was Christianity that kept going in for "inquisitions" and crusades and the burning of heretics, not Islam. During the period of empire building the conquest, the people of the conqured lands were allowed to practice their religions -- including Spain during the Golden Age. When the Christians reconqured Spain, Muslims and Jews were booted out ( or forced to convert).

Do you think "Christians" are doing a little projecting here? Fearing the very thing THEY are/have doing themselves?

Patrick O'Hannigan said...

Boy, ya step away from a blog post for awhile and suddenly there's a wealth of material there. Rather than beat a dead horse (as it were), I want to keep one main point in the spotlight: Comparing "wrath of God" passages in what Christians call the Old Testament with "sword" verses in the Koran is a non-starter, for the same reason that Herr Professor was wrong to jest with a contemporary Lutheran over what happened in the 16th century. You'd think the professor would have known better. What matters is the moral progression of the scriptures involved. It's an oversimplification, but if the OT emphasized justice and the NT emphasized mercy, that's the arc of Christian morality (the two virtues are not incompatible, BTW: see Flannery O'Connor's dictum that "everything that rises must converge").

On the other hand, it's only the early part of the Koran that preaches peace. Later verses make no bones about waging war against non-Muslims-- and those later verses were "revealed" after Mohammed had consolidated his power.

With the above in mind, and apart from any theological argument, the arc of Islamic morality would seem to run from peace to war, which is the exact inverse of the arc described by the old and new testaments taken together.

As to Christianity that "kept going in for Crusades" -- horse apples, sez me. The Crusades were defensive and ulitmately unsuccessful wars, belated attempts to curb Muslim expansion. Notwithstanding the horrors of medieval warfare and atrocities like the sack of Constantinople, few crusaders got rich or were in it for the money. Going on a crusade was for most a shortcut to poverty, because there were no standing armies at the time, and various lords had to outfit themselves and their men-at-arms and retainers at personal expense.

Spain's "golden age" was none to golden for non-Muslims, whose "free" religious practice was only permitted if they paid the "jizya" or religious tax. Had the situation been otherwise, Ferdinand and Isabella wouldn't have found so many allies in their Reconquista.

Churadogs said...

Patrick sez:"With the above in mind, and apart from any theological argument, the arc of Islamic morality would seem to run from peace to war, which is the exact inverse of the arc described by the old and new testaments taken together."

And sez" Later verses make no bones about waging war against non-Muslims-- and those later verses were "revealed" after Mohammed had consolidated his power."

You now need to 'splain why the Koran that makes it absolutely clear that you are allowed to fight injustice and oppression only (not murder for booty or kill people if they won't convert since the Koran is also absolutely clear that there must not/ cannot be ANY compulsion in belief which you need to 'splain with Christianity's religious wars to ensure correct and compelled "belief" all sanction by the Church(s) -- hence those 60,000 Lutherans. And, need to 'splain the Koran's making absolutely clear that when your opponent offers peace you must also offer peace. That's not a War ethos.

You also need to 'splain why billions (with a B) of Muslims are NOT terrorists, why Billions of Muslims live in peace and why terrorists and religious fanatics are the tiniest of minorities if the "arc" of Islam is "war."

As for the joke about Lutherans, No, the good Professor was correct. We "Christians" who self-righteously (and incorrectly) believe OUR religion has a moral arc of peace (Sniff) while (incorrectly) believing that the arc of Islam is war (Eeuuuu, well, you know, "those" people),need to be reminded of their own bloody (past) history.(And, need I remind you of "western/christian" society's present history of War? Like, how many wars has Saudia Arabia,the spiritual home of the moral arc Warish killer Islam engaged in from, say 1900 to present day? How many wars has moral arc peaceful Christian American engaged in since 1900?
Now, you were saying about moral arcs?)

Patrick also sez:" Spain's "golden age" was none to golden for non-Muslims, whose "free" religious practice was only permitted if they paid the "jizya" or religious tax. Had the situation been otherwise, Ferdinand and Isabella wouldn't have found so many allies in their Reconquista."

You compare paying "jizya" and then being allowed to live and prosper and worship freely with the forced Catholic conversion (including ongoing torture and inquisition and death or total exile that was offered to Jews and Muslims under Ferdinand and Isabella? Really?

Churadogs said...

And sez:"On the other hand, it's only the early part of the Koran that preaches peace. Later verses make no bones about waging war against non-Muslims-- and those later verses were "revealed" after Mohammed had consolidated his power."

Suggest you read Reza's book. There's clear conflation here with "historical" Islam (Mohammed's rise, the development of the structures of the religion,(the shuras, the rules and regs, so to speak) (same thing happened with early Christianity, with traditions and theology developed over the years),coinciding with (non religious) tribal consolidation for secular commercial, military expansion into the crumbling empires of Syria, Persia, North Africa and etc.(a serious bunch of rich plums to be picked that had nothing to do with "religion" and everything to do with 6-10th century middle east power politics). ("christianity had a similar arc -- ongoing evolution and development of the formal Christian dogmas alongside "empire" that, like all empires was about resources and power (secular) not "religion" except as a gloss or overlying excuse, i.e. "God wants me to conquer your land in order to save your soul and, oh, by the way, control your stratgeic sea lanes and get all that nice tax money from your rich soil and natural resources, all in the name and to the glory of God . . . of course.")

Now please 'splain to me when "Christians" did that, it demonstrated the moral arc of their religion as one of peace, and when Muslims did the same, it demonstrated the moral arc of their religion as one of war.

Patrick O'Hannigan said...

You don't care for the "moral arc" metaphor? That's okay. See instead Koran 9:111, which guarantees paradise to those who "kill and are killed" for Allah. The Islamic definition of "martyrdom" just isn't the same as the Christian one. Moreover, over 100 Koranic verses exhort believers to wage jihad against unbelievers. They're not all of them references to "spiritual struggle" as Oprah Winfrey would have us believe.

I'm not suggesting that the Koran demands terrorism. Obviously billions of peaceful Muslims don't think that. But just as obviously, thousands of devout Muslims seem not to place as much weight on the "no compulsion in religion" argument as you do, else there might be Chrstian churches in, for example, Saudi Arabia. It's also worth remembering that -- unlike Jesus and His "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's", Mohammed explicitly combined the politial and the theological. How's that "no compulsion" thing again, when states have a monopoly on deadly force?

Forced conversions are bad whether purused by Christians or Muslims, but all religions aren't the same.

Churadogs said...

Patrick sez:"See instead Koran 9:111, which guarantees paradise to those who "kill and are killed" for Allah."

You're cherry picking versus. I suggest you check to see what the consensus/contextual sense of that is, including the asterisks.

Patrick sez:"thousands of devout Muslims seem not to place as much weight on the "no compulsion in religion"

Just like thousands of devout Christians don't take the notion of "separation of church & state" seriously? Or though shalt not kill? Or covet thy neighbor's wife? Don't steal? Bear false witness? There's whole swaths of the Bible that good christians ignore with stunning regularity.

And sez:"else there might be Chrstian churches in, for example, Saudi Arabia."

Sorta like Christians recently gathering together to stop the building of mosques? Or Mr. King saying in an interview that there were too many mosques? Or the ghettoization of Jews in Catholic Europe when Catholic Europe was a theocracy? Theocracies do what theocracies do, whether "Christian" or "Muslim. As has been said many times, what many theocratic Islamic countries need is a "reformation," (which Occurred in Theocratic Catholic Europe) Which, I suspect, is coming along with the various "revolutions" of "democracy/modernization" we see happening in the mid-east.

And sez:"Mohammed explicitly combined the politial and the theological. How's that "no compulsion" thing again, when states have a monopoly on deadly force?"

One thing both Christianity and Islam share is this: The basic message from the "founders" is extraordinarily simple. What happened to the "religion" AFTER their founders died (in the case of Jesus, temporarily left the room) is a whole 'nother story.

I liken all religions to a sleek racing sloop -- simple lines anyone can see clearly -- that over time gets barnacle encrusted to the point where it's no longer recognizable and generations of falible humans add their own barnacles and claim that the barnacle is from God. Naw. That's why your "moral arc" doesn't work. The Moral arcs of Jesus and Mohammed are astoundly similar. The sayings of Jesus that most Biblical scholars all agree actually were uttered by Jesus outlines some of what it takes to be a good Christian and the 5 Pillars listed to be a good Muslim are astonishingly simple. All the rest are barnacles that came over time and with different traditions and cultures and eras. And, being human additions and/or interpretations (or just made up) they too often don't have any morality to it except temporal and too often self-serving.

Also, when any religion is joined with the power of the state . . .arcs of morality go right out the window. Holy (Roman, Caliphate) Empire= Inquisition/compulsion/death / etc. In the name of God, of course. That's always asking for trouble, whether Muslim or Christian or anything else.