Monday, June 12, 2006

the trouble with islam is..... islam

A brief report on the Irshad Manji lecture at the Vancouver Public Library. I’m pretty tired so forgive the meandering. Here we go:

The meeting at the library was full to capacity, about 250 to 300 people.

Not very many muslims in evidence, mostly middle-aged white women attending as couples.

Piles of books hoping to be sold at various stalls along the entrace speak to who tonight's audience was; Michael Moore fans, Noam Chomsky readers, and 9/11 conspiracy faithful.

Irshad Manji started off with biographical material outlining the origins of her questioning the misogyny of islam. She mentioned the role model her mother provided her while she was growing up; her father was politely not mentioned, here or at any point in the evening’s entertainment. The audience respectfully kept mum about it (if you'll pardon the expression).

Over and over again the refrain, “it’s not just islam”, it’s the institutionalised patriarchy around the world. “Western colonialism” has much to answer for, we were told with authority.

Lots of anti-american, anti-conservative, anti-christian and anti-male rhetoric jovially sprinkled throughout the talk, much to the delight of the audience. Most of the questions from the audience at the end of the session dutifully picked up on the anti-west themes, especially from one "I'm not denying Bin Laden is an evil man BUT..." political statement.

Manji mentions the need to ask questions out loud, such as where is the proof of the jewish plot against islam. Methinks she should have asked the parasitic crackpots crouched at a free booth in the corner of the room peddling 9/11 conspiracy documentaries, they seemed to have special channels of information for all kinds of things.
(Later on, to prove their disapproval of the free enterprise system, the conspiracy theorists piggy-backed onto the free question and answer session to promote their website and the dvds and books one could purchase ("through donations") there. Too cheap to buy an ad, so they steal from someone else's space; that’s the left for you)

News that her book has been translated into farsi and purdu at her website and has been downloaded over a hundred thousand times, to be read "in privacy, and therefore in safety".

Saudi Arabia was referred to as “your friend and mine”. No mention of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new conservative government, no mention of the Toronto terrorist plot, the only mention of Iran was to point out a few injustice cases of women being lashed for having been raped. No, I take that back, there was one mention of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it was from the aforementioned parasitic leftists who claimed that Uncle Sam was inventing an excuse to invade Iran, “another Reichstag Fire”, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfield are plotting to get all the Iranian oil and so on. Interestingly, Manji did nothing to dispell the group’s 9/11 (and beyond) conspiracy theories; I guess she knows what her regular audiences are. She instead posited one of her own (“speaking of consparicies…” she said as a finesse away from the moonbat using the microphone as a soapbox), concerning the recent mo-cartoons from Denmark, and how certain islamic nations used the cartoons to distract citizens from their corrupt government’s repression and the poverty that this corruption condemned them to.

I was genuinely fascinated by what she had to say about islamic radicalism in Europe. From her travels she says that many muslims in Europe confess to her how they wish they could live in the USA (and Canada she quickly added when she remembered what city she was lecturing in). Manji says European muslims tell her that in North America, religious faith is a given, it’s so common it is almost expected of the citizens that they are religious, whereas in Europe faith is criticized, that if someone has faith in any religion it is treated as a sign of mental imbalance, or worse. She assures our crowd that “privately if not publicly, they believe that the US is still the Shining City On The Hill”. She said that the main difference perceived between north America and Europe, is that here the future is more important than the past. There’s no incentive to integrate, she said, into Europe’s “missionary atheism”, and that young muslims tell her this is driving them “into the arms of the fundamentalists”.

The bottom line from her talk was that islam is being manipulated and that it’s up to questioning individuals to have the audacity to speak because you can’t unthink a thought once it’s spoken.


truepeers said...

The most noteworthy thing about the talk, I think, was how often Manji was talking about herself, and how little she said about Islam, beyond condeming it for its treatment of women and making a few positive statments about Mohammed's first wife. I wonder if her little cult of celebrity is a response to the possibility she has little concrete to say in defense of her faith and belief that Islam can be reformed. She has painted herself into a bit of a corner, and not yet figured the way out. As for her father, I got the impression that mom raised the kids alone - Irshad mentioned how far mom could stretch her meagre wages.

And about the leftist books on sale, and the 9/11 conspiracy DVDs... in fairness to Irshad it should be noted that these are on sale at every talk sponsored by this leftist organization (Necessary Voices). The shame should rest on the library for providing space to these conspiracy nutters. The fact that Irshad did not denounce the woman who ranted on about 9/11, perhaps speaks poorly of Manji and it certainly reveals her leftist, anti-American tendencies. On the other hand, the woman was simply crazy and perhaps best avoided for that reason... I no longer know what common sense is in such matters, shocked to find myself living in an age when Canadian library patrons buy into the most crazy conspiracy peddling.... Do we pretend many among us are not going crazy, for pragmatic reasons, or do we openly tackle the illness of anti-Americanism alongside the illness in Islam? For Manji, tackling the latter seems to require ignoring, and even fostering, the former.

nomdeblog said...

Thanks. That puts her in a bit more perspective ... disappointing.

I guess she's a lesbian Michael Moore and she's in it for the money just like he is.

When are we going to be able to discern between those seeking celebrity status versus those that have inquiring minds and analysis with something to offer? Was it ever thus?

However, if she can teach some women to be concerned about their security with Islam, that’s a plus.

Charles Henry said...

"I guess she's a lesbian Michael Moore and she's in it for the money just like he is."

nomdeblog, I'm afraid you are more right than you know. Twice during the question and answer session at the end of the talk, there were inordinantly polite questions pointing out severe problems with her thesis, such as verses in the koran advocating wife beating, and her answer was a blunt "read chapter x of my book". Followed by silence. The audience would immediately burst into applause at the "wit" of this answer. The embarrassed questioner would then, on good faith I suppose, go back to his seat... question unadressed, truth unspoken, illusion maintained.

The questions that allowed Manji to indulge in anti-western rants, however, received no admonition to read her book, those question received rather long, and to my ears, pre-packaged answers.