Just a generic Westerner
Reader comment on item: There Are No Moderates: Dealing with Fundamentalist Islam
Submitted by Claire (United States), May 4, 2008 at 04:16
As a generic Westerner, I was fascinated to see you talk about the West not putting in any effort to understand you. That's amazing, because whenever I talk to a U.S. Muslim, he or she has no interest at all in learning about me or my culture, but insists I must read the Koran in order to under theirs.
I've read 3 versions of the Koran over the years, and I guess it's just my generic Westernness, but it looks like a really smart guy, much like Moses of the Jews or Paul of the Christians or Mao Tse Tong of China figured out a way to control a lot of people and be the one calling the shots. I'm speaking of Muhammed, of course. He doesn't strike me as a prophet, so again my Westernness is showing.
He sounds like a warlord who also was a genius at seizing and retaining control of people and dominating them, much like Moses and Paul and Mao. Clever trick to call himself the last prophet of a supernatural being that doesn't even exist. Of course, the Ba'hai, Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups also have their more recent "prophets," but I think those were just men who sought power and wealth, too.
If you wish to live in the 7th century, that's your choice. But there are a lot of people who want to force garden-variety Westerners like myself to do so, too. You may not understand this, but I will die trying to stop anyone who tries to force me to practice a religion--any religion. If a religion seizes my government, I will do everything in my power to stop it.
The U.S. has a system where even freaks only get 8 years as president, so we don't have to revolt--we can just wait them out. The fact is, if you live here, you can be a Muslim, Hindu, atheist, or whatever you wish as long as you don't hurt or limit others. It's a lie that the West is just a materialistic mess. Most people here are thoughtful, hard-working people who love their families and try to live an ethical life. They aren't in the headlines, any more than ordinary Pakistanis are in the news. Many drive fuel-efficient cars and take public transportation when they can and recycle to help the environment. We help the needy, try to raise our kids to be good citizens.
I do think that Islam is evolved to about the level that Catholicism reached in the Middle Ages, and the laws are brutal and unjust in many countries. Maybe not yours. I love being able to go out in the hot weather in a tee shirt, shorts, and sandals and not have anyone pay any attention. I love being able to openly flirt and hold just about any job, shop wherever I want, go to any restaurant I want, and not have to deal with other people's religious beliefs. I love being able to go to the pool or beach and wear a swimsuit without giving it a second thought. I love this life. So don't be fooled by those who say things negative about the U.S. I love it here. And our secular government means you're just as free to build a mosque as I am to build a place for atheists or Hindus or Buddhists to gather. I love that about the West.
I am so thankful to Daniel Pipes for making this site available, because I hear so many people condemn "The West." I think it's time for The West to develop some self-esteem. We make mistakes, but overall, it's a place where all religious people can feel free--and those of us who don't believe in a god, goddess, or deity also can feel free.
Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".
Reader comments (65) on this item
Comment on this item
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes