Saturday, March 7, 2015
is the outgroup a heathenly monolith or are some of them not so bad?
The flip side of Islam bashing as a political tool (including the new atheist position I've been going after, which is mostly the same as the far right's Islam bashing) is Islam itself as a political tool. You end up with a debate between "Islam is uniquely evil" (Harris, Maher, Dawkins) and "true Islam is good, it's only extremist Islam that's evil." The first position serves western geopolitical interests by demonizing its official enemy and helping sell wars that are actually about resources while also serving the new atheist narrative that atheists are the peaceful good guys. Islam as a monolithic outgroup makes the new atheist case stronger. The second position lets certain liberals position themselves as voices of restraint, moderation, and reasonableness while opening a space for not-so-bad Muslims like the ones the U.S. sells weapons to. The contrast also gives certain not-so-bad Muslims a role -- keeping the bad Muslims in check. It's the far right and the new atheists saying "Muslims are the lowest of the low" versus liberals saying "no, no, some Muslims are OK." Now change "Muslim" to "Black" and see how it sounds. Anyway, Islam as uniquely evil is useful for western power. The split between bad and not-so-bad Muslims is useful for western power. The back-and-forth between these positions is useful for western power, which is why it's happening.