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.
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