Sunday, July 24, 2005

Paying attention to bigots

The Sunday Star-Times has a story today about an email from a Christchurch Muslim leader objecting to Chris Carter's visit to a Mosque last week because he is a "raging homosexual". Frankly, I'm not sure why this is news. We know there are bigots in the Muslim community, just as there are bigots in the Christian community. And I think we should give them all the attention they deserve: namely, none whatsoever.


First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

strangely this quote seemed pretty appropriate. Bigots DO need to be paid attention to, particularly when they claim authority for their statements, and are regarded as community leaders. Refusing to acknowledge this, and having people offer fatuous defences of moral equivalence is one of the reasons it seems to have spread so far.

Incidentally, I am not aware of gangs of methodists cutting the heads off or stoning homosexuals. It seems sadly all too common in countries run by the religion of peace (tm).

Posted by gazzadelsud : 7/24/2005 02:20:00 PM

Just to clarify the above: I am not trying to excuse bigotry by Muslims. What worries me is the unhealthy tone of Muslim-bashing which has emerged in the media (and particularly the blogs and their comments) recently, which seeks to tar all Muslims with the same brush. This is as wrong as attributing the views of Bishop Tamaki to all Christians.

I think its important to note that other Muslim leaders have condemnded the email, and seem to understand perfectly that liberal compromise of tolerance-without-approval. And that's all that we should really be asking of people.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/24/2005 02:21:00 PM

On reflection. The key issue for me is your suggestion that we should ignore such bigotry - i can't remember the source, but there is a line about free speech and bright light being important for a healthy polity and this resonates a lot for me.

If "leaders" are skulking around saying this sort of stuff, and the rest of us pretend not to hear it, i very much doubt it goes away, in fact I think it emboldens the bigot, and then we get back to Pastor Niemoller.

If the muslim community do not think these views are mainstream, then let them say so loud and in public. If they cannot, or will not, then there is a real issue.

In fairness, it seems from the article that some muslim leaders are - and that is a good thing.

I do not think protecting the existence of violently intolerant ideology by letting it hide in the shadows is healthy for a pluralistic society.

I threfore think your concern is, on this topic, misplaced.

Posted by gazzadelsud : 7/24/2005 03:05:00 PM

I concur entirely with Gazza. I remain a happy aetheist, yet most days in my small NJ/USA town, I walk past a church with a sign outside saying "Gays and Lesbians Welcome". Such messages on Christian houses of Worship are not uncommon, thank the turtle the world stands upon, even in the great Satan... Is there a mosque in the World that explicitly welcomes gay muslims inside? I would love to know...

Posted by Anonymous : 7/24/2005 03:20:00 PM

Gazza: I haven't noticed the Muslims of New Zealand "coming for" anyone. Quite the opposite, in fact...

It is one thing to take bigots to task for their views (as I did do in Choudhary's case, remember). It is quite another to use the presence of bigots within a community to stir up hatred against that community as a whole. And that is what I am afraid is happening here: New Zealand's Muslim community is being held collectively responsible and tarred with the views of their more bigoted members. In case it needs saying again, I think that that is wrong.

As for not paying attention, I think in some cases that is the best response: ignore tham and wait for them to grow up or go away. We're talking about a fraction of a very small minority of the populace, and while their views are abhorrent, they're not actually causing any trouble to anyone else. They're certainly not marching in the streets or politically organising in a concerted effort to impose those hateful views on the rest of us whether we want it or not, for example. If we're concerned about bigotry, then there are far bigger fish to fry than this.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/24/2005 05:00:00 PM

Hold the front page - Garnet Milne a retired fundamentalist presbyterian has sent an email to the general synod protesting anything and everything to do with the Clark Govt...

Posted by Anonymous : 7/24/2005 10:42:00 PM


What is specifically "hateful" about thinking that certain sexual acts are immoral?

Certainly you seem to "hate" those who believe that same-sex sexual behavior is immoral.

Posted by Muerk : 7/25/2005 11:39:00 AM


Look, I half agree with you. But when Abdullah Drury is all over the media as a spokesman for the Muslim community in Christchurch, I think we should be really clear on what else he speaks for.

Abdullah can't have it both ways.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 7/26/2005 05:56:00 AM