During last week’s hearings on the alleged radicalization of Muslim-Americans, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, protesting that the hearings were an example of prosecution and bigotry, said:
“Islam is a religion based upon peace, goodwill and the ethical treatment of all people on this planet.”
Politics involves advocacy, and zealous advocacy sometimes metastasizes into exaggerations, overstatements, and lies. Determined governors are called dictators and criminals; those questioning global warming models are compared to Holocaust deniers. Believing that an attack on an enemy nation is in the best interests of America, leaders who should be saying, “We have good reason to believe that this nation has weapons of mass destruction and is inclined to use them,” say instead, “We know where the weapons are and the threat is imminent.” Other leaders who are trying to get important health care reforms passed say, “Don’t worry—if you like your current plan, you’ll be able to keep it!”, neglecting to add the caveat that that plan you like may be forced out of existence if the bill is passed.
These excesses range from deceitful to outright lying, but they are all unethical, all disrespectful of the truth and the public that has a right to it, all aimed at manipulating public opinion with falsity.
I find Kucinich’s statement especially indefensible, because the degree of his presumably misstatement of the truth was completely unnecessary if his motives were good. I’ll hold you in no suspense: I do not believe for a second, nor am I suggesting, that the honorable Congressman from Ohio does not have good motives for what he does and says. I think he is irresponsible and that the workings of his brain are a long-standing medical mystery. But there are paranoid political commentators who really believe that some elected officials are determined to sell out the United States to Islam, and Kucinich handed them a gift with this whopper.
If Kucinich’s purpose was to make certain that the public understood that American Muslims, as a group and as individuals, were no less trustworthy and patriotic than any other Americans, and that to the extent that the hearings implied otherwise, this was unfair and an injustice, he could have said, “The vast majority of Muslims in the world today want peace, most who embrace Islam bear us no ill will, and American Muslims, like American Christians, are Americans first.” I might not completely agree with that statement, but it is close enough to the truth for political horseshoes. The statement he made, however, amounts to outright Islamic propaganda. Any Muslim who said this would be inherently suspicious, a real-life version of the Martians in Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks” who continue to proclaim that they have come in peace while they are disintegrating every Earthling in sight.
Islam is not a religion that can be said to be “based on peace.” The originator of the religion, Muhammad, was a warrior, among other things. “Goodwill”? Well, good will toward other Muslims, at least, but this is a “my way or the highway” religion in which non-believers are regarded as infidels that need to be converted and those who leave Islam are regarded as traitors to the faith. Since I don’t know what “goodwill” means to Kucinich—who knows what anything means to Kucinich, when you get right down to it—but I’ll give him a pass on this, though I think it’s probably deceitful. Still, “ethical treatment of all people on this planet” is an outrageously incompetent statement, certainly by the American public’s understanding of what ethical means, and in my opinion, according to any legitimate definition of ethical.
A religion that consigns women to permanent second-class status is not ethical. A religion that suppresses autonomy to the extent that Islam does is not ethical. A religion that includes concepts like fatwa and jihad is not ethical, even if a majority of its adherents no longer endorse them. A religion that treats homosexuality as a crime is not ethical; indeed, much of Sharia law is unethical, and Sharia is derived from the religion. An ethical religion doesn’t send authors and cartoonists some of its dedicated believers disagree with into hiding to preserve their lives.
An ethical religion, in American terms—and Kucinich is in America, talking to Americans—would embrace freedom, personal autonomy, and equal justice and opportunities for all. That’s not Islam, and never has been. Certainly…there are sources that describe Islam in broad, idealized terms that make it sound like the epitome of ethics. Here’s one. It is propaganda. If Kucinich is using something like this to support his statement, he is serving unwittingly and negligently as an Islamic propagandist.If he isn’t relying on it or something similar, then he’s just lying.
Islam wants ethical treatment of all people, Dennis?
Then why are all those women covering their faces?