Joe Scarborough likes to play at being a moderate but when you get past the veneer, he’s just another Republican peddling hate and ignorance. Here he is, parroting the myth of “The Evil Mooslims Hate America Because Islam Is A Religion Of War:”
Now, I can’t be too hard on Scarborough; up until last year I had a similar opinion of Islam. Then I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. If Islam was really the root cause, we would expect to see in America the kind of violence on display in Egypt over the movie in question. We do not. And we won’t. There are two reasons for this; one is culture and the other is ignorance.
Scarborough was correct when he said that the culture is to blame for the violence. What he was wrong about is the conflation of the culture with the religion. The religion may give the external trappings to the culture’s less savory practices but, in the end, the religion is no more than an excuse for barbarism. This is not exactly analogous to the power of the Church in Medieval times but it’s close. The Church had a central authority and the power to enforce its will to the detriment of the people. Islam is not set up in the same fashion and is influenced by the region it is practiced in. Like all religions, it is easy to pick and choose which tenets of the faith best match your own personal prejudices.
For instance, Muslims born and raised in the United States, by and large, view the idea of stoning a woman with revulsion despite the fact that the Koran seems to condone it (as does the Old Testament). My guess is that they chalk it up to the time he lived in much the same way we overlook the fact that George Washington owned slaves. It was a more primitive time and they didn’t know any better. Yet, there are places in the Middle East where this practice is still observed. It’s not the religion, it’s the culture.
If Scarborough continues to insist that Islam is the religion of violence, then so is Christianity, because it has spawned a wave of violence in the United States and Africa against homosexuals as well as given rise to the vile practice of “corrective rape,” which is really just plain old rape tied up with a pretty bow and “justified” by Jesus. I’m sure Scarborough considers that a completely different thing. Funny how that works.
The other problem is one of ignorance on part of the Muslims in the Middle East and some of it is deliberate as far as I’m concerned. Many (most?) of them have no experience with the concept of freedom of speech or separation of Church and State. Even “moderate” countries like Pakistan have anti-blasphemy laws. This means that anything stupid thing they see on Youtube that’s made by an American that attacks Islam is generally considered to exist with the blessings on the United States’ government. In other words, since the government didn’t censor it, it must be endorsing it.
This misperception is being cultivated and used by the more radical elements to incite the masses against the United States but the fact that it continues to work is vexing. After all, for those countries that have internet, they can easily find American videos that attack all religions and the American government itself. There has to be a moment when Muslims in the Middle East look up and say “Ah, they’ll let anyone say anything over there!” Surely it doesn’t help change this view of government complicity to have one of our two major political parties regularly go in front of the cameras and denounce the evils of Sharia law every other day and twice on Tuesdays. Yet, it’s been clear for some time that the right would love to be in a never-ending war with the entire religion of Islam.
Which brings us back to Joe Scarborough and his profoundly ignorant statement on Islam. Who is he kidding? Unlike the Middle Eastern Muslims he so blithely insults, he does understand American and western culture. He knows that most western-born Muslims are not violent savages. Does he think they read a different Koran? Follow a different Allah? I think he is very aware that “our” Muslims practice a very different form of Islam than “those” Muslims, and I think he is very aware that the difference is dictated by the surrounding culture. The reality is that Joe is still a Republican at heart and Republicans thrive on the differences between peoples. In that, he has more in common with the fundamentalists of the Middle East than he would ever dare admit.