|But is it only the extremists?|
Hitchens never mentioned along with other Muslims hopes and dreams ~ is that non-Muslims should live under their protection as second class citizens. The Arabic word is Dhimmi. Those with limited status in any Islamic society. If you listen the moderate Muslims aren't complaining.
The main argument to support Islam ~ is that all opposition to Islam has to be racist ~ and so the child-like=talks-called-articles appear to guide Islam's critics along the right path. But the belief that all opposition to Islam is based on race or is racism, creates a cosy shield from Islam's reality. So shielded some of Islam's supporters might even be reluctant to lay their eyes on a human rights report that spell out in no uncertain terms Islam's religious Apartheid. That people can't change their religion is real. That non-Muslims live as second class or non-citizens in virtually every Muslim country on earth is real. This is not a fantasy and it is not going to go away by calling the critics of it racists and bigots. Although it also creates a cosy nook for Muslims - in particular those in the west ~ who tag on to their unwitting protectors to push their Islamic agendas. That being the loss of religious and other basic freedoms ~ like exists in the Islamic world ~ in the name of having respect for their Arabian God. Humbled ~ domesticated, either one will do!
Another thing is the whole way the word Islamophoobia is used ~ is worrying. It seems if you disagree with the tenets of Islam or you question what Muslims claim to be true about them ~ then you are Islamophobic. This is dangerous. Those supporters of Islam should be a little bit more careful how their support is being used.
A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled "free exercise of religion"?
No, I am not.
Now to Islam. It is, first, a religion that makes very large claims for itself, purporting to be the last and final word of God and expressing an ambition to become the world's only religion. Some of its adherents follow or advocate the practice of plural marriage, forced marriage, female circumcision, compulsory veiling of women, and censorship of non-Muslim magazines and media. Islam's teachings generally exhibit suspicion of the very idea of church-state separation. Other teachings, depending on context, can be held to exhibit a very strong dislike of other religions, as well as of heretical forms of Islam. Muslims in America, including members of the armed forces, have already been found willing to respond to orders issued by foreign terrorist organizations. Most disturbingly, no authority within the faith appears to have the power to rule decisively that such practices, or such teachings, or such actions, are definitely and utterly in conflict with the precepts of the religion itself.
Reactions from even "moderate" Muslims to criticism are not uniformly reassuring. "Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s," Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like. What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness.
Those who wish that there would be no mosques in America have already lost the argument: Globalization, no less than the promise of American liberty, mandates that the United States will have a Muslim population of some size. The only question, then, is what kind, or rather kinds, of Islam it will follow. There's an excellent chance of a healthy pluralist outcome, but it's very unlikely that this can happen unless, as with their predecessors on these shores, Muslims are compelled to abandon certain presumptions that are exclusive to themselves. The taming and domestication of religion is one of the unceasing chores of civilization. Those who pretend that we can skip this stage in the present case are deluding themselves and asking for trouble not just in the future but in the immediate present.