How We Have Abdicated the Moral High Ground to the Extreme Right

One of the big takeaways I have from reading Islam and the Future of Tolerance by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz is the pressing importance of finding ways to achieve honest dialogue. We need to be able to have respectful but direct discussions on the unique problems faced by, and presented, by Islam.

 Gag Me Elmo by Mark Turnauckas

Gag Me Elmo by Mark Turnauckas

If we fail at achieving honest discussion and finding a coherent way forward, we risk that the people who sound like Donald Trump are the only ones who are saying what they are really thinking. This creates the impression that they have the moral high ground. But it is only by our own default that they have it.

It's not worth the effort to persuade the unabashed bigots on the right who are driven by their deep racism. We have to consider how we can help the well-meaning people, those who believe in the universal rights of a free democratic society (whom I will refer to hence as "universals").

We need help each other to see that we have been painted into a corner and that it's okay to walk on the paint because the building is on fire and we need to GTFO.

Some universals are Muslim, some are atheists like me. The goal as I see it, which this book has helped me to bring into focus, is to help the universal Muslims to battle for a pluralistic view of interpreting Islam and to defeat the cases for Jihadism and Islamism.

The part that people who are not Muslim can play is to understand that there are those among us who are making things difficult for the Muslims that want reform. Actions that we think are neutral may not be neutral. And there are some deeply dishonest people on the left who have done a good job of making us question ourselves by crying out "bigotry" and #Islamophobia against anyone who criticizes muslim societies or values. Nawaz refers to these as the "regressive left".

We universals have a hard time taking action that puts ourselves in the bigotry bucket because we care about the impact of our actions. They use this against us, but I think the time has come to grow a thicker skin. I now view political correctness as an auto-immune disease. This describes any time you choose not to say what you mean because someone will be offended or, more likely, label you a bigot of some sort.

The regressive left can go fuck themselves. The building is on fire. Let's get out there and discuss it.

Photo: Gag Me Elmo by Mark Turnauckas