Islamophobia on Metafilter October 30, 2014 6:59 PM   Subscribe

I was saddened by many of the comments in this post. Many of them are fine, but many of them are grossly ignorant, and some cross the line into bigotry for me, prettily phrased I grant.

We have Muslim members in this community - not many, and some have left or reduced their presence here because of the hostility shown to their faith.

There is, on Islam as on anything else, room for debate and discussion, of course. But there should not be room for blindly assured, wildly ignorant generalisations that help promulgate a racist discourse that is victimising Muslims all over the world currently.

I'm sure mefites will bridle at my accusation that their anti-islam tropes are contributing to this, but it's true when it crowds out the reality of Islam as it's practised by the vast majority of people and their voices.

What am I asking for? I guess I'd like the mods, if possible, to put comments about what Islam is and isn't in context of the current harassment of Muslims in the broader west, and be more active in deleting nonsense and unqualified comments. There is some sensitivity about hurt durf Christianity comments (though still sadly persistent), I think we could use more of that here.

For the user base, I'd ask that, if you're not a Muslim, and what you know about Islam has come from other, white, Western, non Muslims, you consider carefully what you can add to a conversation about Islam, and if what your saying is actually correct. And please, stop asking Muslims to publicly condemn or disown some wackadoodle moron worlds away, both culturally, geographically, and ideologically from them. It's insulting and accepts as a premise that the average Muslim has more in common with IS than your average white man does with Charles Manson or someone.

These threads would be better with more comments from our few Muslims and less generalisation from an uninformed user base, in my opinion. Thanks everyone.
posted by smoke to Etiquette/Policy at 6:59 PM (96 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

What am I asking for? I guess I'd like the mods, if possible, to put comments about what Islam is and isn't in context of the current harassment of Muslims in the broader west, and be more active in deleting nonsense and unqualified comments.

Just want to say that I think the mods are already pretty much on board with the general idea; in this case it's a thread where almost nothing was flagged, so we didn't really have an opportunity to look at anything as it developed, so we're left in kind of a tricky spot as far as concerns about inaction go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:07 PM on October 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Thanks cortex, I appreciate the sentiment of support. I'm not surprised there were few flags, as it seems broad, incorrect, statements about Islam have a level of support here, and far more mefites are probably not in a position to assess the validity of some claims, either. Further the sentiments may be terrible clash of civilisations silliness but they are not directed specifically at anyone and typically the tone is not outrageous.

I should flag again, as I have a hunch this may come up, that I am not saying that non Muslims should just stay out of those threads, nor that every statement critical of an aspect of Islam is ignorant or bigoted. There were some good comments on that thread, but also a lot of not-so-good.
posted by smoke at 7:14 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


smoke: "I should flag again, as I have a Hindi this may come up"

That's some powerful weird autocorrect, I'm guessing. Was it supposed to say, "I should reiterate again, as I have a feeling this may come up"?
posted by Bugbread at 7:18 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hunch, now edited. :)
posted by smoke at 7:19 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree that that thread was gross. I didn't flag anything because everyone seemed to be cloaking their Islamophobia in pseudo-logical arguments that didn't seem to rise to the level of deletion-worthy. Which is probably because I'm not Muslim so I can brush it off more easily, which isn't right, and I will work to be more pro-active on alerting the mods when it happens.
posted by jaguar at 7:23 PM on October 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


Flag early, flag often.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:24 PM on October 30, 2014


People say stupid stuff on the site all the time. Some of it is about religions other than Islam. A lot of it is more offensive than what's in that thread. I don't think it's necessarily the job of the mods to stop people from saying stupid stuff, as long as it's not directed at other users.
posted by mkultra at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not surprised there were few flags, as it seems broad, incorrect, statements about Islam have a level of support here, and far more mefites are probably not in a position to assess the validity of some claims, either.

Don't want to be obnoxious, but I fixed that for you. As good as Metafilter is, it's still the internet, and the internet is populated almost wholly by human beings, and human beings for the most part are...not great.

smoke, I did a quick search on the thread and I didn't notice you in there correcting any misconceptions. I think that "only talk about what you know" is a good rule in general but "talk about what you have opinions on" is what tends to happen in human interaction, otherwise we exhaust possibilities very rapidly.

I think it is the responsibility of the well-informed to inform others, not to say "you are not informed about that thing and therefore should not ever speak about it".
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:58 PM on October 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


People say stupid stuff on the site all the time. Some of it is about religions other than Islam. A lot of it is more offensive than what's in that thread.

This is true, and yet that doesn't make some of the more shitty stuff in that thread not flaggable and probably deleteable. There being worse stuff somewhere is pretty much a guarantee and is a terrible reason for not objecting somehow to not-quite-as-terrible stuff.

I didn't flag, even though the thread kept coming up in my recent activity and I kept rolling my eyes and thinking mean thoughts at people. That was pointless. I have no excuse for not flagging, and I will try to actually do better and flag or email instead of just grumbling (even if only to myself).
posted by rtha at 8:06 PM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


FIAMO. Same thing that works everywhere else on the site.
posted by mkultra at 8:19 PM on October 30, 2014


FIAMO. Same thing that works everywhere else on the site.

Yes, but I definitely appreciate the reminder to flag those particular comments. It's easy to develop blind spots about what's actually affecting people, and I think it's great when people remind us that hey, this matters.
posted by jaguar at 8:31 PM on October 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


Sometimes "moving on" means having an actual conversation about things on the part of the site where we do that. So, FIAMO works fine for many people in many instances, but is not a required place to stop, and no one is required to participate in a meTa if the topic is not interesting to them or they have nothing to contribute to it.
posted by rtha at 8:50 PM on October 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


A lot of it is more offensive than what's in that thread.

That's as may be, but something I think is lacking is putting these comments in the real world context outside of mefi, which is increasingly hostile to Muslims, where innocent Muslims are being harassed, attacked and reported. Here in Australia, a woman was pushed over and told to "go back home" last week. She broke her arm. Our politicians, and media, and our federal police in particular, are fueling this hate as it serves the own agendas.

This is the kind of hostile and suspicious environment Australian Muslims are living in currently, and the kind of people they see and hear passing judgement on them. In such a charged and sensitive atmosphere, i feel it behooves us all to think twice about what we say and how we say it, because we may be inadvertently or otherwise contributing to that atmosphere.

In this context dumb generalisations that would be ordinarily annoying but trivial take on an extra significance. An easy way to understand what I mean is to take some of the generalising in that thread and mentally swap out "Muslims" for other groups or minorities. For me, when I did this, the wrongness was even more apparent and it became obvious that no one here, and in the wider world, would dare voice those sentiments about another group of people.

The privilege of not caring that someone is wrong about this like every other thing is not something universally enjoyed. It is not every other thing, and we should not ignore the racism and persecution that makes it different.
posted by smoke at 9:15 PM on October 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


I would only flag something that was explicitly racist or explicitly bigoted. If someone expresses a view I find problematic, but expresses it in a reasonably not assholish way, I won't flag it. So in a thread like that, where the people of metafilter are letting their Western privilege flags fly, there aren't a lot of obvious flagging moments, but there are a lot of "well, I guess this is how these folks really think about shit" moments. And those moments are depressing as shit.
posted by latkes at 9:42 PM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


The fact of widespread anti-Muslim bigotry in the western world is tragic and indisputable, but I don't see why that means that religious beliefs, and the cultural mores to which they are inextricably linked, should be immune to criticism. Or more specifically, why there should be a different standard for Islam than for other religions.

Like, for example, if someone made a comment about how Mormon culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people, I doubt that would raise any eyebrows here. Or if someone were to point out the serious social problems inherent to Hasidic Jewish communities, I don't think anyone would characterize that as anti-semitism. In both of those examples, there is an implicit criticism of certain religious beliefs and the cultural practices that spring from those beliefs. I don't understand why it should be any more controversial to say that homosexuality being punishable by death in Saudi Arabia is not coincidental to the fact that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim theocracy.

I see a lot comments along those lines in that thread. I'm not seeing comments that say that all or most Muslims believe that homosexuality should be punishable by death. Or saying that Islam in general is incompatible with liberal values. Or that Muslims should feel collective guilt and shame about ISIS. No one seems to be defending Bill Maher's asinine comments about how moderate Muslims need to be more vocal about denouncing extremists. Can you give an example of a comment from that thread that you feel crosses over into bigotry? Maybe I missed it.

It is true, bigots will use these sorts of legitimate criticisms as an excuse to justify their bigotry, but I think that's their problem, not mine.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 9:50 PM on October 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


Well, this was my only comment in the thread, and up to that point, most of the comments were arguing over whether Bill Maher was a Threat or a Menace, but then, it got into the issue of which Holy Book was more irrationally claiming to be "the Official Word of God", the Bible or the Koran, and rather than comment "BOTH", I took my attention elsewhere.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2014


I'm not sure how to judge this Metatalk without a few comments singled out. Depending on what you're talking about I might either agree or strongly disagree. Can you point to the type of comment you mean?

Being wrong or ignorant isn't against the guidelines. Being a bigot isn't either, although posting a bigoted comment might be. But how are we to judge without knowing exactly what we're judging?
posted by Justinian at 10:57 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just want to say that I think the mods are already pretty much on board with the general idea; in this case it's a thread where almost nothing was flagged, so we didn't really have an opportunity to look at anything as it developed, so we're left in kind of a tricky spot as far as concerns about inaction go.

What a horrible response. Whats being said here is:
Since nobody told us about it, we couldn't do anything! But yeah, we're on your side...but we aren't going to do anything.

Yes. Because every deleted comment was once flagged. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Never has a mod actually been IN a thread as it was developing, or deleted a comment that they knew didn't belong. Yeah. Sure buddy.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's kind of crappy. The mods are overstretched so they rely on flags to draw their attention to bad stuff.
posted by Justinian at 11:21 PM on October 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


Never has a mod actually been IN a thread as it was developing, or deleted a comment that they knew didn't belong. Yeah. Sure buddy.

You are imagining some shit that I did not say. I didn't claim we never delete stuff that hasn't been flagged or that we never catch stuff while it's developing—it's well established that that happens sometimes when we stumble across stuff by happenstance or someone specifically alerts us to potential trouble in a thread—but it's a basic logistical reality and no secret that we cannot and do not read every thread on the site. There is no reason to expect, in the absence of flags or a heads up from the contact form, that we will somehow know about any specific comment or thread; there's a chance we'll happen upon it but the default assumption has to be that we won't. That's why we have flags and the contact form: so that people can let us know that something needs looking at.

Why you would pursue such an ugly misreading of pretty clear and long-standing moderation practice is beyond me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:02 AM on October 31, 2014 [21 favorites]


It's a huge turd dropped in the middle of the discussion. I'm constantly amazed that the mods will respond to stuff like it, and stay pretty calm while doing it.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:50 AM on October 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm not surprised there were few flags, as it seems broad, incorrect, statements about Islam have a level of support here,...

I think you're misinterpreting the lack of flags, particularly since you don't sound like you did any flagging, and at least a couple of others who found comments in that thread objectionable have explicitly said they didn't flag any. If you who care about the comments that bother you won't flag them, how can you turn others' lack of flagging into "a level of support"? While I was still following that thread, I didn't see anything that seemed egregious. So I did not flag anything, and stopped following the thread when I lost interest in it. Does that constitute support?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:22 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm Muslim and yeah I do tend to keep away from threads like that for the reasons stated in the OP. I did do a fair bit of flagging on that thread.

But there are good things about that thread, particularly cendawanita's contributions - and it was a shame they left the thread.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:49 AM on October 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


In Christianity threads there are plenty of people who speak from positions of deep knowledge, and most everybody who participates has at least a passing familiarity with the basic tenets of Christianity, but from what I can tell most people who take part in threads about Islam know little or nothing about Islam. It's pretty maddening.
posted by Kattullus at 4:04 AM on October 31, 2014 [22 favorites]


There's an annoying dynamic on Reddit where anything good is met by 'we did it Reddit!' and 'this is what's so amazing about this site', but when shitty behaviour is pointed out, Reddit suddenly becomes a communication tool where millions of users in thousands of subreddits naturally have different opinions and anyway freeze peach.

Similarly, Metafilter can one day be a 'truly unique and special website', a 'bastion for rational, intelligent, evidence-based discussions' between 'intelligent, thoughtful, analytical people', but when ugly behaviour is noted, 'people say stupid stuff on [Metafilter] all the time' and it's 'still the internet'. (Yes, different people, but there isn't much pushback to either of these poles.)

Amazing work has been done down the years to make Metafilter a place where women, gay people and trans* folk (mostly) feel they can talk about their lives in a welcoming environment without being tone-policed or otherwise harassed out of the discussion. If the atmosphere here means that Muslims don't feel comfortable participating in threads about Islam, that seems to be a pretty glaring problem. Sure, there are complications when belief systems don't overlap nicely with each other, but surely that's what intelligent discussion is good for.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:44 AM on October 31, 2014 [16 favorites]


Are we avoiding pointing out any specific comments that people feel should have been deleted? Because I don't see how we're ever going to actually address the point of this Metatalk beyond platitudes without an example or two.
posted by Justinian at 5:05 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


"In Christianity threads there are plenty of people who speak from positions of deep knowledge, and most everybody who participates has at least a passing familiarity with the basic tenets of Christianity,..."

I think you overestimate the number of people who speak from positions of deep knowledge and underestimate the passing familiarity of the rest of the commenters.
posted by klarck at 5:24 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


The fact of widespread anti-Muslim bigotry in the western world is tragic and indisputable, but I don't see why that means that religious beliefs, and the cultural mores to which they are inextricably linked, should be immune to criticism. Or more specifically, why there should be a different standard for Islam than for other religions.

Like, for example, if someone made a comment about how Mormon culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people, I doubt that would raise any eyebrows here. Or if someone were to point out the serious social problems inherent to Hasidic Jewish communities, I don't think anyone would characterize that as anti-semitism. In both of those examples, there is an implicit criticism of certain religious beliefs and the cultural practices that spring from those beliefs. I don't understand why it should be any more controversial to say that homosexuality being punishable by death in Saudi Arabia is not coincidental to the fact that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim theocracy.


This comment is actually a great example of one major way in which there is "a different standard for Islam than for other religions" in these sorts of discussions. If someone commented that "[Christian] culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people," or talked about "the serious social problems inherent to [Jewish] communities," I think many eyebrows would indeed ascend. Many people (myself included) would probably assume that the overgenerality of such statements was intentional and polemical.

But when, rather than describing Saudi Arabia as a "[Wahhabist] theocracy," you and many others just call it "Muslim," I don't think you're being polemical; I just think you don't know what you're talking about.

(Calling Saudi Arabia a Wahhabist theocracy would also be an oversimplification, but more along the lines of "Baptists oppose gay marriage" than "Christians sure do love to venerate icons.")
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:17 AM on October 31, 2014 [46 favorites]


I read that thread early on, thought "ugh," and moved on. Religion discussions in particular here tend to rub me the wrong way, with assertively uninformed comments about complex issues, so I stay out of them. Reading the bottom quarter or so of that discussion now, I see a mix of informed and interesting comments and a bunch of simplistic and in some cases frankly jingoistic comments.

I'm not really sure if this is solvable at a moderator level, though -- these are society-wide blind spots, with the vast majority of Americans (and Europeans, Australians, Canadians, etc) not just uninformed but wildly misinformed about both Islam and the history of political extremism, much less the complex social and political situations in other countries. It's easy to delete explicitly bigoted comments (assuming they are flagged, of course) but not simple or workable to delete comments that stem from a lack of information or a strange set of beliefs about religion in general.

Like, for example, if someone made a comment about how Mormon culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people, I doubt that would raise any eyebrows here.

That's a perfect example of a situation where the reality is far more nuanced than your simplistic portrayal would suggest, and a blanket statement like that absolutely should raise eyebrows in the same way that simplistic statements about Islam should as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:36 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think it is the responsibility of the well-informed to inform others, not to say "you are not informed about that thing and therefore should not ever speak about it".

Except that's not generally how this site works and is also a trope used to derail discussions by those in the know. You see it in every feminist thread and most threads about transgender issues. Someone comes along, says something stupid, and then insists it's because the feminists are more worried about keeping their clubhouse men-free than to educate. It really isn't up to the well-informed to inform others. It's up to the ignorant to learn.

This said, I don't see how a larger outside world context means there should be some kind of safe haven for any one particular religion. So yes, I get that Muslims are getting a bad wrap lately, and I get the religion as a whole shouldn't have to denounce the the actions of some of its adherents, but I don't see how you can set site policy off this.

I often feel like a bigot when it comes to religion because I think religious beliefs are dumb. I've spent a lot of time in my deformative years trying to find a religion or spirituality that spoke to me. I studied them academically and pursued them personally. I know people (and am friends with) practitioners of most of the major faiths and some of the more scarce denominations. I do like to point out to religious people when they say some other religion is more dumb than their own that they are most likely wrong. People make fun of Scientologists and Mormons like they have cornered the market on ridiculous religions, but if you look at the mythology of any faith it never makes more sense than any other.

For the record, I'll fight for anyone's right to believe any-old-damn-thing they want. I respect a person's right to a belief, but that's a long way from respecting those beliefs.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:37 AM on October 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


This comment is actually a great example of one major way in which there is "a different standard for Islam than for other religions" in these sorts of discussions. If someone commented that "[Christian] culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people," or talked about "the serious social problems inherent to [Jewish] communities," I think many eyebrows would indeed ascend. Many people (myself included) would probably assume that the overgenerality of such statements was intentional and polemical.

But when, rather than describing Saudi Arabia as a "[Wahhabist] theocracy," you and many others just call it "Muslim," I don't think you're being polemical; I just think you don't know what you're talking about.


And I think you're splitting hairs and being pedantic. Christian culture in the deep south makes life difficult for gay people. Theocratic Jewish elements within the Israeli government are partially to blame for the oppression of Palestinians. Those are both perfectly non-controversial statements.

The word that I find problematic about the phrase "Muslim theocracy" isn't "Muslim". It's "theocracy".
posted by seymourScagnetti at 7:14 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Secondly, the proper place to take issue with people making uninformed comments is in the thread, not in Metatalk. You can find uninformed comments in pretty much every single thread about any topic you care to name, from knitting to biology to cat scanners to Bill Maher's comments on Islam.
posted by Justinian at 7:35 AM on October 31, 2014


I realize now that I have commented that the "firstly" to that comment occurred only inside my brain. But I will leave it saying "secondly" to illustrate my point about ignorant and incoherent comments in every thread.
posted by Justinian at 7:36 AM on October 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's an annoying dynamic on Reddit where anything good is met by 'we did it Reddit!' and 'this is what's so amazing about this site', but when shitty behaviour is pointed out, Reddit suddenly becomes a communication tool where millions of users in thousands of subreddits naturally have different opinions and anyway freeze peach.

Similarly, Metafilter...


I totally thought you were going the other way with this and were going to compare Islam with Reddit.
posted by ODiV at 7:48 AM on October 31, 2014


I think it is the responsibility of the well-informed to inform others, not to say "you are not informed about that thing and therefore should not ever speak about it".

Except, that's not what smoke said.

"For the user base, I'd ask that, if you're not a Muslim, and what you know about Islam has come from other, white, Western, non Muslims, you consider carefully what you can add to a conversation about Islam, and if what your saying is actually correct."

"Hey, think about whether what you're saying is correct" is not at all the same as "STFU".
posted by MissySedai at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


4. Justinian makes a good point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually find this thread pretty disgraceful. It's basically been a free reign for people who didn't like that thread to accuse mefi of islamophobia without actually accusing anyone specifically of islamophobia.
if there were unacceptable comments in that thread they should be deleted and subject to the same standard of public appeal as any other comment. This second " we don't like it but" thread demeans people without being fairer offering people a chance to respond because it does not show who is accused of wrongdoing.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 8:42 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


E. One of the things that regularly bugs me about discussions of Islam is how much it's conceptualized through a Judeo-Christian lens without understanding the significant cultural, theological and organizational differences. It's a major theme in Said's Orientalism, as well as in any good class about Middle East politics. It just makes people look dumb (like when Decani links to some blog post by an ex-Muslim atheist who then misrepresents studies on female genital mutilation in order to support a simplistic RELIGION=BAD jeremiad with a vague notion of logical argumentation).

It's also vexing that the default assumption for trying to correct those aggressively dumb comments is usually the idea that somehow Islam is getting a unique pass, the "Oh, I guess we can't criticize religion then" bullshit. No, you can, you just shouldn't be an idiot about it. Instead we get whiny atheist "silenced all my life" nonsense any time they're told to keep a lid on their pub-forged theological farts.
posted by klangklangston at 9:19 AM on October 31, 2014 [28 favorites]


"I actually find this thread pretty disgraceful. It's basically been a free reign for people who didn't like that thread to accuse mefi of islamophobia without actually accusing anyone specifically of islamophobia. "

Meh. Bill Maher is an idiot who hates women; his criticisms of Islam are idiotic and glib. Pretty much anyone who defends him or Sam Harris should know better. It was kind of a terrible post for MeFi all around, what with Orthodox Student Lefties pitted against Iconoclastic Celebrity Jackasses. After seeing it here, I tried to wade in but got bored pretty quickly. I'm pretty sure that if you give it an honest read, you can pick out plenty of glib jackassery pretty quickly and don't need to fisk the entire thread.
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 AM on October 31, 2014


I'm (culturally) Muslim and a Cal alumni to boot, so I was about to comment on that thread, but about twenty comments in, I foresaw the direction things were going and decided to peace out. I just don't have the energy for that shit.

Like Ziggy500, I tend to avoid threads like that, which I know doesn't help, but sometimes I just don't feel like wading in. It's easy to get drowned out, and it can feel a little too MeFi Muslims vs. everyone else.
posted by yasaman at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


So any comment that could be construed in support of Sam Harris or Bill Maher is in your view unacceptable? wow.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 9:58 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Christian culture in the deep south makes life difficult for gay people. Theocratic Jewish elements within the Israeli government are partially to blame for the oppression of Palestinians. Those are both perfectly non-controversial statements.

They are also less generalized. You didn't say "Christianity makes life difficult for gay people," neither did you say "Jews are to blame for the oppression of Palestinians." You particularized. And, even still, the statement you make are, in fact, controversial, as it is primarily Baptist and Catholic groups in the south that have made life difficult for gay people, while the United Church of Christ has no such recent history. And "theocratic Jewish elements" is so nonspecific as to be almost entirely useless -- you could be describing a handful of people, or a thousand.

Maher said that Islam is the "motherload of bad ideas" Not a few, not some, not specific groups, not in a specific region. Islam. All of it. His statements about Islam have consistently held the entire religion to be responsible for anything he doesn't like about a specific group in a specific context.

That's Islamophobia, and it's really disheartening that we don't recognize it when it's so pronounced.
posted by maxsparber at 10:17 AM on October 31, 2014 [21 favorites]


Wait, FineProduct, are you responding to yasaman? If so, I've read their comment three times and I have no idea where you got the idea they were calling anything "unacceptable".

Even at a first glance, their comment is on the general tenor of the discussion, and you've warped this into a claim that "any comment" in one direction is unacceptable. That is such a distortion of what they said I'm rather stupefied.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:21 AM on October 31, 2014


an ex-Muslim atheist

You say that as if it means we shouldn't be listening to them. That seems like a pretty valuable perspective to me. Sometimes people who leave a religion do go overboard in their response to it, but they also have personal experience and knowledge that can be useful. I'm not sure what problem exactly you had with the discussion of studies on FGM. It seems like the only point they made about in regards to studies is that Aslan is wrong that it is not a problem outside of Central Africa.

They wade into difficult waters when they argue Islam is partly to blame for "its spread beyond the Middle East-North Africa region and for its modern prevalence." Again, it's a diverse religion and you are looking at collectively blaming a lot of people who don't agree with the practice. But when it's someone raised Muslim (unlike Maher) who is speaking I kind of feel like they have a right to talk about the culture as a whole if they want just like I might criticize toxic aspects of American culture as a whole despite that being incredibly diverse. There's nothing wrong with criticizing your own culture that way as long as you are willing to enter a more nuanced discussion when it's called for. I think they acknowledge their criticisms aren't universal.

It seems like they are really trying to walk the same fine line a lot of people are in trying not to contribute to bigotry while at the same time being forceful critics of some elements of Islam. I don't know if they succeed at that entirely, especially while noting the perspective of Muslims who say they feel under attack from this sort of thing, but I'm glad Decani added the link to the thread even if he did it in a supremely jerky way. But hey, not everybody who posts like a jerk sometimes isn't adding something valuable, right Klang? ;)

Ex-Muslims of North America, About Us:
As people who were raised Muslim, or converted to Islam of our own choice, and then left Islam because we could not believe in it anymore, we stand between this polarity, and we refuse to cater to either the bigots or the apologists. We do not wish to promote hatred of all Muslims. We ourselves were Muslim. Many of our families and friends are Muslim. We understand that Muslims come in all varieties and we do not and will not partake in erasing the diversity within the world’s Muslims.

Most of us have researched and continue to research many of the world’s religions, and we are, as a group, very well-versed in the horrors committed by other religions throughout history. We reserve the right to focus on Islam because it is the religion with which we have the most experience, it is the religion in which many of us were raised, and the religion some of us who are former converts tried to believe in with all our hearts.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:26 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was responding to klangklangston who clearly states anyone who defends him or Sam Harris should know better. .
I would never reply to yasaman in the same way. Because not being a perfect liberal I understand what it is to be drowned out in mefi threads!.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 10:33 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can anyone note specific comments that were bad? It might help to understand.
posted by corb at 10:49 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Apologies, FineProduct.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:55 AM on October 31, 2014


They are also less generalized. You didn't say "Christianity makes life difficult for gay people," neither did you say "Jews are to blame for the oppression of Palestinians." You particularized. And, even still, the statement you make are, in fact, controversial, as it is primarily Baptist and Catholic groups in the south that have made life difficult for gay people, while the United Church of Christ has no such recent history. And "theocratic Jewish elements" is so nonspecific as to be almost entirely useless -- you could be describing a handful of people, or a thousand.

I was responding to a criticism (quote "you don't know what you're talking about") in my first post for saying that the fact that homosexuality in Saudi Arabia is a capital crime and the fact that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim theocracy are not urelated. The operative word is theocracy. I would not want to live in a Muslim theocracy, nor a Christian theocracy nor a Jewish theocracy.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:35 AM on October 31, 2014


Orthodox Student Lefties pitted against Iconoclastic Celebrity Jackasses

Coming this Halloween, it's Family Feud.... IN HELL.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Like, for example, if someone made a comment about how Mormon culture in Utah makes life difficult for gay people, I doubt that would raise any eyebrows here

The problem is the selective outrage, which is a thing we're absolutely great at in contemporary America and internet. It's undeniable that some Muslims are bad people who do bad things. There are millions of Muslims on Earth, and some percentage of people on Earth do bad things. By the same token, some percentage of Jewish people must be greedy, because some humans are greedy. Nevertheless, Nazi propaganda films are not just movies that happen to be about greedy Jewish people, because they thought that was an awesome story.

By the same token, when we get post after post and story after story about "barbaric" and "savage" ISIS beheadings that completely ignore Western military violence against Muslim civilians that is debatably more brutal and happens hundreds of thousands of times more often, there's something seriously wrong with that, and people should be able to say so without being seen as "defending ISIS" or equivalent brown villain of the month.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2014 [14 favorites]


"So any comment that could be construed in support of Sam Harris or Bill Maher is in your view unacceptable? wow."

So, any comment that could possibly be construed as critical of Sam Harris or Bill Maher is in your view unacceptable?

I mean, since we're substituting straw men for actually engaging with what I said. But at least you are illustrating that you're over-sensitive and engaging in bad faith, which helps establish the credibility of your complaints.

You say that as if it means we shouldn't be listening to them."

No, it means that they are more likely than a current Muslim to support Decani's biases. Specifically, my complaint within that blog post was that they causally linked FGM as "common" in Muslim countries, specifically Malaysia, and gave a study as support there that didn't actually give that simplistic answer — it actually had a long section on the relationships between religion, culture and FGM, noting things like many non-Muslim Malaysians practice it. Further, when examining the religious underpinnings, they actually talk about the differences in practice within the Muslim community, specifically the portions of the Hadith that prohibit FGM that interferes with a woman's ability to feel pleasure. While I don't support it as a practice, the "female genital mutilation" that is essentially a pin prick on the clitoral hood can and should be distinguished from the practices that involve removal of the hood or excision of the clitoris.

Collapsing that all down to FGM is common in Malaysia because Muslims is dumb, and that was at best a pedantic objection to Uyger's point, and Decani's use of it as a broader signal that criticisms of Muslims couldn't be racist because a formerly Muslim atheist supported it is idiotic.

There's a huge number of actual intelligent conversations and criticisms of Islamic culture that we could be having, and instead we're having another one of the equivalent, "Hur hur Pope rape boys" discussions. It's not giving Islam a special pass, or religion a special pass, to say that this is profoundly dumb and obnoxious and actually precludes smart discussion. But then I tend to think that FPP poisoned the well from the giddyup.
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


"I was responding to a criticism (quote "you don't know what you're talking about") in my first post for saying that the fact that homosexuality in Saudi Arabia is a capital crime and the fact that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim theocracy are not urelated. The operative word is theocracy. I would not want to live in a Muslim theocracy, nor a Christian theocracy nor a Jewish theocracy."

I totally agree with you that the operative word is theocracy, but you have to recognize that when you distinguish that as "Muslim theocracy," people are going to focus on "Muslim" because you're not distinguishing what makes that Muslim theocracy specifically Muslim.
posted by klangklangston at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't claim to be an expert on FGM or Islam, but any fool with half a brain could read the relevant literature and be convinced that educational levels, socioeconomic status, and the urban vs. rural divide are better predictors of whether FGM is being practiced rather than which religion is being practiced in the household. But don't let that stop anyone form being uninformed and bigoted...carry on, carry on.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:31 PM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


when we get post after post and story after story about "barbaric" and "savage" ISIS beheadings that completely ignore Western military violence against Muslim civilians that is debatably more brutal and happens hundreds of thousands of times more often

ISIS rewards its soldiers with rape slaves. I'm pretty sure we can unequivocally say that they are barbaric without needing to be racist for saying it. Western military violence can be brutal, but thank god, we haven't gotten to the rape slaves advertised openly for sale/reward yet.
posted by corb at 12:46 PM on October 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


By the same token, when we get post after post and story after story about "barbaric" and "savage" ISIS beheadings that completely ignore Western military violence against Muslim civilians that is debatably more brutal and happens hundreds of thousands of times more often, there's something seriously wrong with that, and people should be able to say so without being seen as "defending ISIS" or equivalent brown villain of the month.

Yes, you get these posts. If you think there should be something else on the front page, make a post.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:00 PM on October 31, 2014


The problem is the selective outrage

Yes! Totally with you on the selective outrage. Which is why I find it so puzzling that on a website where feminist concerns are a major preoccupation, it's apparently controversial and possibly bigoted to criticize a religious culture (Wahhabi Islam as practiced in Saudi Arabia) where adult women are not permitted to drive and are required by law to have a male guardian.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 1:09 PM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


By the same token, when we get post after post and story after story about "barbaric" and "savage" ISIS beheadings that completely ignore Western military violence against Muslim civilians

Saudi Arabia, where we have a number of military bases and whose undemocratic regime has our unconditional support, has beheaded at least 59 people this year, most for crimes, such as political dissidence, that aren't capital offenses even in Texas.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:10 PM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


"ISIS rewards its soldiers with rape slaves. I'm pretty sure we can unequivocally say that they are barbaric without needing to be racist for saying it. Western military violence can be brutal, but thank god, we haven't gotten to the rape slaves advertised openly for sale/reward yet."

Right, but how does ISIS being Islamic distinguish them from Yugoslavia, where the systemic rape and sexual slavery of Muslims was performed by white Christians? Or Liberia, where they were perpetrated generally by Christians on Christians? Or Sierra Leone, where interfaith councils of Muslims and Christians were actually the impetus for ending the practice during the civil war (and indeed for ending the civil war itself).

In fact, for the last several years, the UN Secretary General has issued a report on the use of sexual violence in conflicts, and "Islam" is a pretty weak hypothesis when compared to other explanations.
posted by klangklangston at 1:22 PM on October 31, 2014 [16 favorites]


drjimmy11: By the same token, when we get post after post and story after story about "barbaric" and "savage" ISIS beheadings that completely ignore Western military violence against Muslim civilians that is debatably more brutal and happens hundreds of thousands of times more often, there's something seriously wrong with that, and people should be able to say so without being seen as "defending ISIS" or equivalent brown villain of the month.

the man of twists and turns: Yes, you get these posts. If you think there should be something else on the front page, make a post.

I'm not sure about this. ISIS beheadings are "news," but I highly suspect, based on apparent site consensus around other, parallel issues, that frequent postings about Western military violence as thematically similar to one another as ISIS beheadings are would not fly, under the oft-bandied "Look At This Bad Thing" accusation.
posted by threeants at 1:26 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's fair to say that US military adventurism has been discussed rather a lot on Metafilter, and not generally in a super positive light.
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


The latest comments in this thread are an excellent illustration of comments that are not overtly offensive, but frankly typify the hostile and racist environment Muslims everywhere are now facing.

In a post discussing Islamophobia and Muslims - over 1.5 billion people - somehow we end up talking about Saudi Arabia (29 million) and IS (a few thousand).

This is because, I believe, Islam - in the minds of most non-Muslim Westerners - is well represented by Saudi Arabia and IS. That is the most potent and certainly the most visible representation of Islam for most of us in the West. And its grossly, grossly unfair. It is the equivalent of every discussion on Christianity turning to revolve around the Westboro Baptist Church. Except, this is an environment where Muslims are currently being persecuted and villified because of the existence of IS - the vast majority of whose victims, I might add, are in fact other Muslims.

If you are Muslim, and in every thread you come across a bunch of ignorant comments that reflect no understanding of how your faith is actually practiced by you and the majority of its adherents, holds up fringe adherents of your religion as representative, and then darkly implies that there's something inherently evil or wrong about your religion, that's pretty shit.

The fact that two Muslims have come into this thread, stated their discomfort with how Islam is treated on the site and that they avoid threads around Islam - and most everyone has managed to skate over these statements or put the blame on them for not leaping into the fray every time - illustrates, to me, that there is a problem here worth thinking about.

The fact that the solution is so simple: "If you don't know anything about Islam except what you see in the news and on your atheist blogs, you should probs keep quiet or at least ask more questions instead of putting up blithe assertions" - and that this is seen to be as too difficult or unfair, or unnecessary, is frustrating to me.
posted by smoke at 2:16 PM on October 31, 2014 [27 favorites]


I'll speak up as a third Muslim who avoids threads to do with Islam. It's really disheartening to face the bile which erupts in these threads and I feel that if I say anything at all I'm pre-emptively forced into two roles I find equally repugnant: that of being the Good Metafilter Approved Muslim or that of defending Islam when why the fuck should I, is that the only conversation there is to have about my faith and culture?
posted by tavegyl at 3:58 PM on October 31, 2014 [23 favorites]


Um, no. I am talking about ISIS because it got brought up. I never said it was indicative of Islam, nor did other people. It is not the most visible example of Islam, it's just the people doing some awful atrocities. I couldn't give a fuck about what religion ISIS is. I give a fuck that they're murdering and abusing people.
posted by corb at 4:01 PM on October 31, 2014


on your atheist blogs

As an out-of-the-closet and unapologetic atheist, this deliberate way in which you chose to phrase your comment is fairly offensive, if coldly ironic — just so you know how your language is working on some people who generally agree with your larger point.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:44 PM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


For the past 24 hours, that thread has pretty much been moorooka against the world. Maybe the mods could tell him to give it a rest? I think he's repeated himself often enough for everyone to understand what he's saying by this point, if they somehow didn't get it first 5 or 10 times.
posted by nangar at 4:47 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


[Comment removed, do not turn this thread into some sort of angry throwdown.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:02 PM on October 31, 2014


Cortex refuses to allow me to defend myself.
posted by Decani at 5:28 PM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are being an aggro jerk and, in typical fashion, sent me a shitty mefimail when you weren't allowed to toss a "fuck you" my way in thread. We have given you a lot of chances, too many by half, since we for some misguided reason let you come back after more or less getting yourself banned years ago, and you have rewarded that with ongoing derision and verbal abuse toward the userbase and the mod staff. If you're going to dare me to ban you, at his point I'm more than comfortable obliging; go be some other community's problem from now on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2014 [31 favorites]


In a post discussing Islamophobia and Muslims - over 1.5 billion people - somehow we end up talking about Saudi Arabia (29 million) and IS (a few thousand).

FWIW, I'll cop to being OT with my comment -- it was an observation about selective outrage given that the beheadings are used to stir up sentiment when the US is BFFs with a country that beheads pretty freely. I did not intend it as a comment on Muslims, though I can certainly see why it would be taken that way. Personally I'm far more sympathetic to Reza Aslan's take on the role of religion in extremism than Sam Harris'. Even though I'm more generally in the latter's camp WRT to religion overall.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:44 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Like I've said before, some of these religion posts are surprisingly OK, and some of them are shitshows, just depending on what portion of the userbase shows up.

It's a bummer because you learn the most interesting things about religions and culture when people aren't shouting at each other, and as much as Metafilter has those lolxians moments, I have gotten more genuine insights into Christianity from Metafilter than from anywhere else. There may be threads like that concerning Islam, but I have not encountered them.

To Muslim members, I can only apologize, really. Hopefully we can have a more inclusive discussion in the future.
posted by selfnoise at 6:05 PM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


on your atheist blogs

This tells me that your complaint is really with atheism.
posted by Brian B. at 6:48 PM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm somewhere between agnosticism and atheism and I have major problems with how mainstream atheism speaks about religion. That doesn't mean my problem is with atheism; my problem is with how many atheists spout off about religions about which they don't know nearly as much as they think they do.

There's a certain strain of atheism that seems to push the idea that they must save gullible people from manipulative religious leaders. And there's a certain strain of progressivism (?) that seems to push the idea that they must save women/gays/other-marginalized-groups from their own beliefs or cultures. The two strains combine a lot in progressive discussions of Islam, and it's extremely infantilizing of Muslims, gays, women, and often plenty of other people. It very quickly veers into White Savior Industrial Complex mode.
posted by jaguar at 7:04 PM on October 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


psychological projection
posted by Brian B. at 7:18 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


This tells me that your complaint is really with atheism

Well, you couldn't be more wrong, as I am very much atheist. Good gracious, I did not realise a simple reference to a thing which happened in that thread, and regularly happens in religion threads (linking to atheist blogs) would engender suspicion and offense from more than one person. I was merely pointing out that content from heavily agenda driven sites with very limited expertise and experience and often some truly terrible endorsements don't bring a lot to the discussion.

You can be atheist, believe it or not, and still respect Islam and Muslims. All religions, really.
posted by smoke at 7:19 PM on October 31, 2014 [14 favorites]


Well, you couldn't be more wrong, as I am very much atheist.

Doesn't matter. Issues are usually complex.
posted by Brian B. at 7:25 PM on October 31, 2014


I think it would be better to focus on actions and outcomes, however, rather than playing Guess Who with people's motivations.

I am genuinely sorry if my mention of atheist blogs upset you. You can imagine, I'm sure, how upsetting it would be to have someone saying that there's something fundamentally wrong with atheism, or asking you to call out Stalin, and some of the terrible, racist and sexist thing prominent atheists have done or the atheist community has promulgated , or saying that someone calling atheism a huge and dangerous mistake is "right on the money". And that's upset with all the privilege you enjoy and the lack of media and government suspicion etc.

Issues are usually complex, aren't they? I feel like I was just saying that.
posted by smoke at 7:34 PM on October 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Atheist blogs are the worst kind of blogs, in my opinion. Do atheist blogs think that they just evolved from random events??? Obviously an intelligent web-designer is responsible for the existence of every blog, and for a blog to say, "Hey, I'm an atheist now, I don't even believe in bloggers" - well, that is just sinful. If (for example) MetaFilter stopped believing in Lord mathowie and his archangel Cortex, I don't know who we'd end up voting #1 for.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


I am genuinely sorry if my mention of atheist blogs upset you.

That's missing the point. You are/were suggesting a religious-safe forum, emphasized with an atheism dig, and in strange quotes. It was telling, as I noted. Someone else took offense, not I.
posted by Brian B. at 7:50 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who? Richard Dawkins? PLEASE DON'T LOSE YOUR FAITH BECAUSE OF US RICHARD!!!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:56 PM on October 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's kind of crappy. The mods are overstretched so they rely on flags to draw their attention to bad stuff.

Oh, are we still on the "mods are overstretched" argument. Kinda neat because all mod deletions of comments and all mod deletions of topics "metafilter does not do well" along with a lack of deletions can be justified using that excuse.

You are imagining some shit that I did not say. I didn't claim we never delete stuff that hasn't been flagged or that we never catch stuff while it's developing—it's well established that that happens sometimes when we stumble across stuff by happenstance or someone specifically alerts us to potential trouble in a thread—but it's a basic logistical reality and no secret that we cannot and do not read every thread on the site. There is no reason to expect, in the absence of flags or a heads up from the contact form, that we will somehow know about any specific comment or thread; there's a chance we'll happen upon it but the default assumption has to be that we won't. That's why we have flags and the contact form: so that people can let us know that something needs looking at.

Why you would pursue such an ugly misreading of pretty clear and long-standing moderation practice is beyond me.


Please don't apply something that isn't there. mods don't "stumble" onto threads garnering tons of comments. Especially a rather controversial topic. Saying that a topic like that want having a mid constantly sitting in it just seems untrue. And because of that, I think it's not cool to say "well we didn't delete, because it's your fault you didn't flag" (paraphrased).

Not cool.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:35 PM on October 31, 2014


I'd just like to say that smoke is one cool dude, alhamdulillah.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:48 PM on October 31, 2014


Saying that a topic like that want having a mid constantly sitting in it just seems untrue.

And yet it is true, regardless of what you think. I don't know why you're ranking your imagination about what happens here over a mod's explanation of what actually did and does happen, but it's a ridiculous basis for an argument.

You are incorrect on the facts, and on the basis of that making up underhanded shit to accuse us of. Cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:07 PM on October 31, 2014


Sorry to see you go Decani, if you were motivated in part to freak out cause of my comments I did not mean to upset you that way. I think it's more likely you lost your cool over another comment and well, I didn't like it either, but it's wrong to take it out on the mods.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:26 PM on October 31, 2014


Probably 50% of threads about religion at mefi are total shitshows where certain posters show up early in the thread to say "RELIGION IS STUPID WHY IS THIS POST EVEN HERE." The other 50% are great and interesting and better than any other general interest site on the web. But there's definitely a cadre of posters who think that its okay to threadshit a religion thread because NOBODY'S EVER HEARD BEFORE that religion is stupid and misguided and we all need to know it RIGHT NOW.

Like others in this thread, I tend to read the first five or ten comments and go "oh, good discussion!" or "Nope I'm out!"

I can live with this because I understand how emotional the rejection of faith is for many people. But I'm also a member of a religion with a comfortably robust membership in the US and the West (Catholicism) which isn't typically subject to discrimination or abuse, so it's a bit easier for me to shrug off assholery as a momentary unpleasantness, rather than considering it dangerous. People should think a bit more before spouting ignorant universal judgments of minority religions.

Also TIL there are 29 million people in Saudi Arabia, I had no idea! I guess I thought it was sparsely populated, I guess because of the desert. That is a lot of people!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:53 PM on October 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah but it only works out to 39.5 people per square mile, roughly equivalent to Maine's population density (37.54 people per square mile).
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:22 AM on November 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Probably 50% of threads about religion at mefi are total shitshows where certain posters show up early in the thread to say 'RELIGION IS STUPID WHY IS THIS POST EVEN HERE.' The other 50% are great and interesting and better than any other general interest site on the web. But there's definitely a cadre of posters who think that its okay to threadshit a religion thread because NOBODY'S EVER HEARD BEFORE that religion is stupid and misguided and we all need to know it RIGHT NOW."

This is so true and, in my opinion, a huge part of the problem.

The ignorance of religion among MeFi's demographic contributes to this on both sides, I think. It makes it impossible for those who attack and those who defend Islam with regard to misogyny and other stuff to do so in a way that doesn't generalize and exoticize. It makes it easy for people to use, say, Wahhabism as a stand-in for all of Islam and it makes it easy for other people to see criticisms of Wahhabism as an attack on all of Islam.

But the core of this particular problem is Islamophobia. It poisons all discussions about Islam because Islamophobes find the extreme examples of misogyny in Islam a convenient excuse to express their Islamophobia and then, naturally, those who oppose the bigotry of Islamophobia begin to respond to all criticism of Islam as if it were motivated by and examples of bigotry. Because, most of the time these days, it is.

As an old guy who first became a feminist at the end of second-wave feminism, through the entire nineties I was very aware of and outspoken about the Taliban. I was also very aware of FGM, though it should be noted that from the first essay I read about it by Steinem, I knew very well that it was a regional, cultural practice and not inherent to Islam. But, you know, basically no one cared. Feminists cared. Other folk, not so much. And then 9-11 happened. Suddenly all sorts of people, and particularly the American right, took up the banner of caring about the Taliban's misogyny. And, you know, it was sickening to me, really. And you also see how FGM became wrongly conflated with Islam. It's opportunist and it's dishonest.

But, also, it makes it very difficult for people like myself to talk about these particular examples of institutionalized misogyny. So, mostly, I don't. I'm not going to provide cover for Islamophobic bigots, even though I also get quite annoyed when I see people minimizing institutional misogyny within the context of Islamic cultures. I think to myself, fuck you, bigot, for making it impossible to talk about extreme examples of institutionalized misogyny in certain cultures because you've used them as props in your bigotry.

And, also, in many cases, I'm wondering why folk aren't talking about institutionalized misogyny in religious contexts when it's Christian, such as the Magdalene Laundries. Most cultures are pretty patriarchal and have some extreme misogynist elements, and it's trivial to find examples where this has been institutionalized via religion. They're everywhere. Every single major religion has sects and subcultures that are very patriarchal and show institutionalized misogyny. When people ask why critics are focused on Islam, it's a totally fair question because it's not as if there aren't a whole hell of a lot of other worthy targets, including those in their own backyards.

Of course a certain strain of atheist does talk about institutionalized misogyny in Christianity and religions other than Islam. But, guess what, they don't talk about misogyny in New Atheist/skeptic culture, do they? Funny how that works.

For me, as a feminist, what I find very revealing is how selective is the concern for the status and treatment of women, how obvious it is that it's so often used as a prop to disguise regressive and imperialistic motives. That tells you a lot about the status of women in the world today -- people don't actually take the things they are ostensibly criticizing that seriously, or else they'd be a lot angrier and more active against a whole hell of a lot more targets than the few they've chosen.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:05 AM on November 1, 2014 [24 favorites]


Saying that a topic like that want having a mod constantly sitting in it just seems untrue. And because of that, I think it's not cool to say "well we didn't delete, because it's your fault you didn't flag" (paraphrased).

You've been there long enough that I'm not really sure why you doubt what mods are telling you. If you're okay on math you can do some and see that they are down (at least) one full-time staffer and possibly more since June. And the shitshow threads are still shitshows which just means that the people who have to babysit them have to do that plus work longer shifts. The mods talk, frequently, about how they do their jobs. When things got shaken up in June there was discussion about how this was, specifically, going to be an outcome of that. So if you don't think that's cool because of your own misreading of the situation, that's sort of on you but I don't think it reflects much on the mods at all.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:23 AM on November 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


> But, guess what, they don't talk about misogyny in New Atheist/skeptic culture, do they? Funny how that works.

A lot of atheists and skeptics have been talking about misogyny and harassment in "New Atheist/skeptic culture" (more accurately, the atheist and skeptic con cultures). It's been a really contentious issue, and it wouldn't be if a lot of people within those communities hadn't been very outspoken about it. (This is analogous to the way "critics" of Islam ignore the existence of Muslim feminists, and analogous to the way almost all the commenters in the original thread ignored cendawanita's comments as if they'd never been posted and they couldn't see them.)

But yeah, no one's been calling for mass bombings of predominately Southern Baptist regions of the United States or majority Catholic countries because of their views on gender equality and homosexuality. But apparently all good liberals are supposed to agree that the annihilation of women and gay people in mostly Muslim countries, along with their entire families, communities, and anybody else living in the region is the best way to "rescue" them from oppression. This doesn't make any sense, but we're supposed to believe this is all about gender equality and human rights, not geopolitical and economic goals, and that most Muslims being non-European has nothing to do with the totally callous and inhuman way so many American liberals talk about them as opposed to other religious groups they disagree with for ostensibly similar reasons.
posted by nangar at 8:35 AM on November 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


I skimmed that thread at one point and found nothing in that discussion that I wanted to participate in, but here on the grey I'd like to issue a positive callout to cendawanita's comments, which I found interesting. As a feminist who's participated in a lot of unhappy threads on women's issues, I understand why Muslim Mefites don't want to wade in. But there are readers out here who appreciate informed contributions to discussions of Islam and Islam-related topics, and particularly to efforts to untangle the western conflation of Islam with (parts of) Arabs/the Middle East.
posted by immlass at 9:04 AM on November 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


Exact same experience, immlass. Abandoned that thread, went back for cendawanita's comments because of this thread, so happy to see his/her contributions. I'm now going to go back and re-read the thread. Really appreciating your voice here, cendawanita.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:45 AM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually don't really venture into MeTa much, but I'd been wondering what the heck happened with the favourites count (cendawanita: not doing mefi well since forever), so I came by here to see if there's a coincidence....

Anyway, I usually like to read these threads even though I know they are plain exercises in frustration, but I'm more of a lurker type. But I guess it was a case of 'one too many', and I just had to post something, because the irony of ironies, living in Malaysia is not exactly a funfair of progressivism right now either. in my other life, my alter ego publicly lives the role of speaking out against gross injustices being committed by the pro-wahhabist strains in the establishment, and I want to say it's a case of bitter irony, but it really is more like, "god, you people are dumb. you people have no idea what is it you're representing. and you won't stop talking."

i'm speaking of course, about my goverment. #mmhmm
posted by cendawanita at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2014 [15 favorites]


But, guess what, they don't talk about misogyny in New Atheist/skeptic culture, do they? Funny how that works.

You obviously missed the threads about this topic on this very site.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:19 PM on November 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


(i feel like i need to have an asterisk footnoting that 'funfair of progressivism' comment - 1. american evangelical christianity has made inroads into our christian and non-muslim population, and with it with all the attendant politics. true story: i go to one of our biggest supermarkets, and they used to play james dobson's lectures all the time. i just got back from a wedding where the dad reminisced about the focus on the family camp he attended with his daughter; 2. our tamil indian population has barely admitted links including material support to the tamil tigers; 3. the opposition govt in the state of penang, a mostly chinese (ie non-muslim) state/political bloc, just issued a law banning foreigners ie migrants from working at the hawker stalls because them cooking would rob the 'original' and 'authentic' character of malaysian food. so yeah, not a funfair, as such.)
posted by cendawanita at 12:22 PM on November 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


cendawanita: not doing mefi well

Thanks for your perspective in the thread, sorry it was frustrating for you. Mefi karma owes you some sort of foodie makeup megapost in return. Makeup you can eat made from organic kale! I'm sure some startup is working on it.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:36 PM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


double yay if it has steve rogers's booty! #class

I had to bow out of the thread because there's only so much fact-checking and handholding you can do to and for someone, and if I wanted to relive 'Obnoxious and Frustrating Circular Arguments with Angmohs Who Will Tell Me How I'm Doing It Wrong', I'd just go to grad school in the West. Which hey, I did!

But I'll move out of the frame now, and yes please, sign me up for actual substantive conversations about Islam and Muslims without the Islamophobia as well. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SAY.
posted by cendawanita at 12:44 PM on November 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


and human beings for the most part are...not great.

Disagree.
posted by phearlez at 9:54 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


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