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Mohammed and Pop Culture

December 27th, 2004 | 2 min read

By Tex

After meeting with Matt in Seattle and being mildly reprimanded for not having contributed anything to Mere Orthodoxy but only revelling in the enjoyment of reading the opinions of others, I have decided to try my hand at blogging. (It also helps that my computer at work no longer blocks this website–although it does block me from being able to read any comments that are posted…thanks Uncle Sam).

I’m concerned to find more and more attempts by mainstream Muslims in America to distance themselves from their radical brethren by promoting a positive image of themselves in popular culture. From animated films, to comedy tours, to a completely Muslim TV network, they are doing everything they can to make their ideas and religion more palatable to the West. Interestingly, by distancing themselves from radical Islam, they often end up getting rid of many of their theological and philosophical distinctives and tend to look like increasingly like secular Westerners with an exotic Eastern veneer (complete with the current Western secular ideals and virtues of pacifism, tolerance, diversity, etc.). For example, while studying in Egypt I had the opportunity to meet with revisionist feminist Muslim scholars who placidly reinterpret the Qur’an, arguing that it is actually a handbook for women’s rights, regardless of the more common interpretations of the past 1500 years.

If (as?) the Muslim image becomes sanctified in the Western mind it will be increasingly difficult to create the necessary opposition to the evil and tyrannical ideas propounded by more radical Muslims (usually) holding to more literal interpretations of the Qur’an and Islamic fundamentals. If Islam can be made to look like a tame house cat, then Americans will be wholly unprepared to deal with the tiger it can become (reference the French and Canadian struggles with deep and fundamental differences between their tolerance and the divide between secular and Islamic law). Certainly there is no need to hate or fear Muslims indiscriminately, as if they all were terrorists or tyrants, and undoubtedly many Americans would benefit from realizing this; however, if we are to be good stewards of the liberties granted us by nature and Nature’s God and protected in our Constitution, we would do well to discriminate between secular ideals wrapped in Muslim packaging and the much more (imminently) dangerous ideas promoted by Muslims who are opposed to the West, and respond to each accordingly.