« Rules of the Road: How To Drive In Salta, Argentina | Main | It's My Birthday! Yay! Now, What Can I Do To Help? »

March 17, 2010


Charles Conlan

"Propaganda," says Richard Alan Nelson.
I was taught growing up that one of the first signs of the impending Holocaust was the outlawing of Jewish practice. So when I see civilized European countries outlawing Muslim practice, it does not sit well with me.

Richard, maybe right about propaganda against the Muslim religion. What he has not said is that the Muslim world is calling for the death of a nation. I repeat, Death of a Nation.. Is there anything more vial than this??

Charles Conlan

I meant the Vile definition and not the medical definition.

Leigh Shulman

That's just it. The Muslim world is so enormous. It includes so many people, countries, races and ethnic groups.

What percentage of that enormous group is making the call for death?

I want to be clear, though. Of course I in no way excuse anyone instigating murder, bombings or anything violent particularly in the name of God.

My friend Ali, the one whose book I translated is Muslim. Some of my greatest moments have been spent with him. He was the first outside our family to meet Lila after she was born. And he was devastated by the 9/11 attacks on NY.

I can't answer the question of what percentage. But I know for a fact it's not 100%. If all Muslims are lumped together and treated as killers, well, I don't like to think of what would happen.

Leigh Shulman

No worries. I understood completely. Just as I understand your overall viewpoint. I'm not sure what there is to do about those who call for the death of innocents.


I don't agree with the comparison between Jews on the cusp of the Holocaust and Muslims living in the EU. Europe has had a long history of antisemitic rhetoric, pogroms, exiling Jews and other nastiness well before the actual holocaust took place. Muslims have not been labeled Christ killers or been accused of eating gentile blood during Purim or Passover. Their cardinal sin is that many have refused to accept that they are invited guests in the EU and must spend more time being tolerant of rival theologies and working to become valued members of society. Instead we see fire and brimstone sermons by Muslim leaders inciting violent Jihad against the West, terrorist attacks on innocent people and the desired forced conversion of Western society into a backwards caliphate.

Geert Wilders may be manipulating public opinion with Fitna but he is not incorporating fiction into his accusations against Islam. 9/11 did happen as did the other bombings committed in the name of Islam. The hate laden speeches by leaders do exist and have been recorded for all to see. Killing and rioting over a stupid cartoon of Mohammad did happen. The quotes from the Koran are not fabricated. Nothing in that film was a reenactments of events but recorded history with context. Compare this to a bunch of fictitious Jews sitting around a table and talking about world takeover and other nonsense.

Look I know it is difficult to rehab your image when you have leaders such as Ahmedinajad, Asaad, Mubarak, Wahhabist Saudi clerics, Nassrallah from Hizballah, the boys from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, Sudan's genocidal leaders, Bin Laden and the Taliban who are dominating discourse. I would like to see more moderate voices emanating from the Muslim world. That will go a long way in proving that Wilders is wrong about Islam.

Leigh Shulman

Bottom line for me is that propaganda aimed at inciting distrust and hatred is never a good idea. If you are against Ahmedinajad and the others you mention using such techniques, why is it alright for Geert Wilders?

This makes me think of the Timothy Leary circumplex. Before he was known for taking drugs, Leary was actually known for innovative psychology research. Drugs were a part of that in addition to his discussions of interpersonal behavior. He posits that addressing anger and violence with anger and violence will only lead to greater anger and violence.

You yourself ask for voices within the Muslim community to be more moderate. Why then, would you legitimize Wilders techniques who call with the same extreme voice as heard from the Muslim community?

So glad we can continue this discussion online as well as we do in real life.... :)


Thanks for your response to my rant...

Wilders is not calling for the destruction of an entire people. Check out this article about him


He is just trying to frame his "case" about Islam and the danger it poses (in its current state) to Western Society. The interesting phenom about Wilders is that he is center-left and not right wing. I also disagree with you that his message is tantamount to hatred and intolerance.

Ahmedinajad on the other hand... Advocates destroying Israel, denies the holocaust and persecutes his own people when they disagree with him. When he talks a crazy alarm goes off in your head... Whatever prop he is expressing is taken as the rambling of an idiot but he is still head of a country and not just a leader of a small political party of a small country.

I think Leary is talking about interpersonal relationships and not one culture against another culture. On the macro scale wars and conflicts are ugly and should be avoided at all costs. They are however a fact of life. Wilders premise is that Islam (in the EU)needs to be revised in order to preserve the secular society present there today.


I found this article fascinating. I read with interest the piece on the banning or the wearing of burkas.

About 4 years ago when i was living in London there was a radio programme that every day had debates on current affairs. There would be a differnt subject each day - one person for & one agaist. During the discussion the public could e mail or phone with comments & some got called to say there comment on the show at the end via the phone link

This perticular day they were debating the fact that the BBC were going to have a Muslim woman read the news & she would be wearing the burka. I e mailed in & said i saw no problem with that at all. What the heck - does it really matter what anyone wears whilst they read the news? As long as it is presennted in a balanced way i have no problem with it at all. I e mailed in & got a call. Could i say my comment on the air? They said that out of all the hundreds of calls i was about the only person that didnĂ˝ object!!!!

Leigh Shulman

It's one thing to point to specific actions of specific people and take a stand against that. It's another to point to an entire religion that spans tens of countries and millions of people.

While Wilders premise may be Islam in the EU needs to be revised, he can't really change an entire group's view of God. It also seems rather monolithic in approach, because surely there are Muslims in Europe and elsewhere who do not espouse the views Wilders portrays.

What percentage of Muslims are violent and seek jihad against Western countries? I don't know anyone has an answer to that.

As for citing the Koran, it would be just as easy to take passages of the Old or New Testament or Prophets and blame Jews and Christians for wanting violence too.

And if you think Ahmedinajad's words are wrong, why would you think it's then ok for someone else to match them on the other side of the argument?

Leigh Shulman

I can't believe not one other person called in to say they also object.


The burka is a tricky thing, as are many of the laws relating to women both under Islamic law and in countries ruled by Islamic law. As a western woman, it is very difficult for me to understand why anyone would want to wear one. I would be very angry if someone made it law for me to do so.

On the other hand, if someone does believe in her own need to wear a burka, asking her to remove it when entering public buildings (or for a radio show) shames her. In some ways, it's the equivalent of asking someone like me to remove my skirt because I might be hiding a gun or bomb underneath.


There is nothing in mainstream Islamic thought or the Koran for that matter that specifies that a woman must cover up her body completely only leaving her eyes to be seen by the outside world.

This is an interpretation of Wahhabi which is the strictest forms and hearkens back to the days (current days in some Muslim countries) where woman's life is equal to a couple of camels. Just because a religion or its practitioners truly believes in a concept doesn't mean that we are required to accept it in our culture.

For example, in some ancient Sumarian cultures it was widely believed that if you sacrifice your first born child and bury the body in the foundation of your house it would bring about prosperity to your family.

In our culture we would call that murder and likewise forcing a woman to wear a burka in public is a form of abuse and gender segregation that does not need to be tolerated.

Leigh Shulman

Likewise, you can't really compare wearing a burka to child sacrifice.

My main point is that the outlawing of religious practice that doesn't break country laws is a very dangerous thing. Does it stop there?

Of course, honor killings are horrendous, and if you immigrate to a non-Muslim country where it is considered completely unacceptable prior to your arrival, you are bound to follow those laws should you choose to stay in the country.

But burkas? They are not the same thing. Outlawing them only serves to further segregate the women who wear them.

The comments to this entry are closed.