Thursday, April 25, 2013

Greenwald's Liberal Blindspot


Glenn Greenwald has recently been getting some well deserved grief over his refusal to honestly assess Islam as a source of violence, specifically pertaining to the Boston Marathon attacks. Andrew Sullivan:

"we have a mountain of evidence that Tamerlan was far more extremist
than 99.9 percent of the entire American Muslim population. Why will
Glenn not acknowledge this?"

Why? Perhaps it has something to do with Greenwald's very public libels against Sam Harris and the New Atheists last week. In the face of criticism, he dug himself in fairly deep.

After recommending to his twitter followers an abject and dishonest quotemine distorting Harris' views, he defended himself against backlash by analogizing Islamically inspired violence with violence committed by the other major religions, leaving unsaid of course the obvious qualifier that today, religiously inspired terror afflicts us primarily from a single religion which I needn't even name. Never mind that in the same breath he analogized state motives with religious ones, parrying our alleged "Islamophobic" terror bias with hey, look, the Iraq!

Surely there are a number of terrible reasons to commit violence, but it must be acknowledged that among them religion is a very significant one, and that between the world's great religions, one is today less reformed, less tolerant of blasphemers and apostates, and more resistant, natively, textually, and in its current practice, to liberal interpretation and modernization. Any burgeoning reformation is therefore a heavy lift, albeit one that should be encouraged.

Greenwald has fortified himself inside a windowless citadel of Islamic sensitivity hardly penetrable by even the most blatant assault. He no longer tiptoes around Islamic criticism but has floated off into some far orbit of it.

It seems a school of post-colonial-guilt ridden apologists feel liberally obliged to remain blind to any differences between today's flocks. I submit that as we oppose illiberalism in society we should do so in religion, and that attention should be appropriately directed to those religious traditions which are more illiberal or otherwise liable to inspire violence than others. The Jains may be irrational, but not only am I not scared by them, I am unscared. 

Greenwald and the authors whose views he endorsed allege that this mere observation would place me amongst "Islamophobic" bigots, scientifically rationalizing and masking a crypto-racial hatred. They have shown themselves blind to the obvious point that combatting an ideology - not a race or unchangeable class - cannot by any strained definition constitute racism.

In his response Greenwald has claimed that merely tweeting an article is not necessarily a full or even partial endorsement, which is true. But Greenwald did endorse the libel, both in his tweet and in his response to criticism. Decide for yourself:

Note that the "very revealing quote" is the one that is most dishonestly mined. Here's Harris' email exchange with Greenwald.